Alim Ozturk reveals why he signed for Sunderland and why club is ready to turn corner

Sunderland new boy Alim Ozturk.
Sunderland new boy Alim Ozturk.

Sunderland new boy Alim Ozturk says he wants to help the club come back stronger from the woes of relegation.

Ozturk became the first signing of Jack Ross’ revolution last week when he joined on a free transfer after a spell at Turkish second-tier side Boluspor.

The Turkey Under-21 international knows Ross from his time at Hearts, where he helped the Edinburgh club back to the top flight after relegation disappointment of his own.

And he says that experience, plus the new exciting new regime at the Stadium of Light, gives him hope for Sunderland’s future.

“When I went to Hearts, they were in the same position as Sunderland are now, looking to get back on track after relegation,” Ozturk said, speaking from his honeymoon in the Maldives after tying the knot in the Netherlands recently.

“I got the same feelings when I went to Sunderland as I got when I first went into Hearts. There’s a new chairman and a new manager and I feel like the club is ready to turn the corner.

“Jack Ross is a sensible guy and wouldn’t have taken this job if he didn’t think the club was ready to move in the right direction.

“No club wants to get relegated but we have seen before where big clubs get relegated and they come back stronger. It can give you a chance to rebuild and do new things.

“I hope we can do the same at Sunderland as we did at Hearts.”

Ozturk, who will meet his new team-mates for the first time on Sunday when they fly out to Portugal for a pre-season training camp, returns to British football 18 months after vacating the scene when his time at Hearts ended under a cloud and he moved to Turkish second-tier side Boluspor.

“My period at Hearts was really good, and I wanted to experience British football again, playing in full stadiums with passionate supporters,” he added.

“My initial intention was to stay in Turkey for next season but if I could find a good club, I was open to moving back to the UK.

“It was only a few weeks ago the opportunity first came up to go to Sunderland, and after we started talking, it was all done really quickly. It was a really easy decision.

“I had a good relationship with Jack at Hearts, so that was important but the main thing is that the club is amazing.

“I saw the training ground and everything – the stadium is amazing and the facilities are really good. I’m really happy.

“When I went to Hearts, I was only 21 so I was really young.

“It is really important for a footballer to play regularly and I feel the experience I have had of playing regularly at Hearts and also in Turkey has made me a much better player.

“I’ve played in Holland, Scotland and Turkey already, and every country has its own style, so I’ve learned lots of different ways of playing.

“I am used to the physicality of British football, which should help me, but in League One, they play more games than in Scotland. That is something I feel good about though.

“I’ve signed for two years so if everything goes well and we get promoted to the Championship, who knows what can happen after that.”