13 November 2010-SBS
Australian-born defender Ersan Gulum was named in Turkey’s 24-man squad for next week’s international friendly against World Cup runner-up Netherlands.
As reported on The World Game earlier this week, the Besiktas centre-back met with officials from the Turkish Football Federation to discuss a future with the Cresent Stars, who are currently coached by ex-Socceroos boss Guus Hiddink.
In a written statement released by his Australian respresentatives, Gulum admitted that the call-up was just the start of a new path in his career.
“I must stress that I am only at the start of the road. Playing six games for one of the biggest clubs in Turkey, is just the beginning of a dream that was handed to me,” he said.
“I want this dream to last for a few years to come and I understand it requires a lot of hard work.
“I have and always and will have a close allegiance with Australia. I love the country. Through my management, Football Australia has been notified of my ongoing progress.”
The 23-year-old, who played twice for the Olyroos, explained his decision and hopes Australian fans would understand why he elected to embark on an international career with Turkey.
The dual-citizen, on separate occasions, had stated a wish to represent Australia at senior level but a succession of snubs from previous Socceroos coaches ensured the country of his heritage won out in the race for his services.
“Disappointingly, until last week, I have not heard from the Australian authorities for the past two and a half years, while the Turkish national team has been watching me closely… (And also), they have been constantly contacting me and the people around me,” Gulum explained.
“For me it has been a case of being overlooked at all levels in the past for Australia, for whatever the reason has been.
“Especially with (the) Olyroos, when I was told I will not get picked to represent Australia because I play overseas and not (in) the A-League.
“I have been patiently waiting for some form of recognition. The first bit of contact came last week after the Turkish National Team had called me for a possible call up.
“I respect newly-appointed national team coach Holger Osieck’s decision to overlook me for the upcoming friendly against Egypt, as he has no idea of who I am and has never watched me play live.
“My frustration lay with the previous coaches who showed me no interest, when a decision would have been much easier for me to make.”
Gulum has faced media and supporter backlash in Turkey this week for his indecision, with an influential sports publication likening his flirtation with the Australian national team to Real Madrid superstar Mesut Ozil’s decision to play for Germany.
“My family heritage is of Turkish descent and I am as Turkish as I am Australian. I walk the streets of Istanbul feeling right at home as I did in the back streets of Meadow Heights. It is the birthplace of my parents, who also currently live in Turkey,” he added.
“People would have differing views about my decision to play for Turkey and I can assure everyone that it wasn’t an easy one.
“Now that a decision has been made all I want to do is concentrate on my own football firstly at club level, and if I am lucky enough to get the chance, at national level.
“I want to help my team win the Turkish Super Lig and go as far as we can in the Europa League.
“I have to fulfill the faith my coach Bernd Schuster and the Besiktas Board has shown in me and ensure I secure a long term deal with the club as well as represent Turkey in a new era of Turkish Football under coach Guus Hiddink.
“I hope all concerned will respect me for the decision that I have had to make, based on my current position in Turkey.”
Turkey squad for international against Netherlands:
Goalkeepers: Volkan Demirel (Fenerbahce), Onur Recep Kıvrak (Trabzonspor), Ufuk Ceylan (Galatasaray)
Defenders: Gokhan Gonul (Fenerbahce), Sabri Sarıoglu, Servet Cetin (Galatasaray), Serdar Kesimal (Kayserispor), İbrahim Ozturk (Bursaspor), Ersan Adem Gulum, Ismail Koybasi (Besiktas), Gokhan Suzen (Istanbul Buyuksehir Belediyespor)
Midfielders: Hamit Altıntop (Bayern Munich), Yekta Kurtulus (Kasımpasa), Selcuk Inan (Trabzonspor), Yigit Incedemir (Manisaspor), Orhan Gulle (Gaziantepspor), Nuri Sahin (Borussia Dortmund), Mehmet Ekici (Nurnberg), Ibrahim Akın (Istanbul Buyuksehir Belediyespor), Engin Baytar (Trabzonspor)
Forwards: Batuhan Karadeniz (Eskisehirspor), Burak Yilmaz (Trabzonspor), Umut Bulut (Trabzonspor), Kazım Kazım (Fenerbahce)
Turkey plays Netherlands on November 17 (November 18 AEDT) at Amsterdam ArenA.