Alim Ozturk: “I can’t wait for kick-off”

Alim Ozturk was a relieved man at 9.30pm on Saturday night as his team-mates held on for a precious 1-0 lead in their first leg game against Portsmouth at the Stadium of Light.

Sunderland were leading 1-0 thanks to a Chris Maguire goal and were pushing for a second. It was at that point that Gareth Evans burst through midfield and was adjudged to have been brought down by Ozturk.

The referee showed no hesitation in showing a red card and Sunderland had 20 minutes plus added time to defend a one-goal lead heading into the game on Thursday night.

Fortunately, the decision was overturned on Tuesday and Alim is available for the second leg, but what did the Turk make of the decision?

“To be honest, I was expecting to see the decision overturned. It was not a red card for me, at all. For some people maybe and in real time it may have looked a bit clumsy.

“I saw the reaction of those around me and they were saying ‘no way, that is not a red card’ and that was the feeling from me as well.

“I was not sure what the referee was going to do when he blew for the free kick, but I was genuinely shocked when he pulled the red card out and you can see that from my reaction. “

After a challenging start to life in red and white, Ozturk is delighted to be playing his part once again and he’s determined to repay the faith shown in him by the red and white army.

The Turkish defender also shared his excitement about getting to work ahead of tonight’s second leg at Fratton Park.

“It was not an easy start for me when I came here. I worked hard for myself and you want to play games – that is why you play football; you want to be on the pitch.

“It was a really difficult period and it was hard to take as I really wanted to play. I have played the last six games and I have tried my best to do my part in this important period.

“The fans did not see the proper me at the start of the season, but they are starting to now. I was surprised with myself at the start of the season.

“The things that I did, I know myself that I wouldn’t do those things, when I went home, I did not know why I played the way I did on the pitch. But I am 100% now and I am ready to go.

“I really can’t wait for kick off. This kind of game is the type you want to play as a player. There is a lot of pressure. It is a huge game for the club. To be involved is really nice and hopefully we can get the positive result we need.

“I was waiting for my chance for a very long time to be honest. The other guys were performing so well so it was hard. But when I got my chance, I took it and I played really well.

“Since then, the fans have got behind me and have helped me perform to my best levels, so I want to thank them for that.”

Back to top