EXCLUSIVE: Bulut firing in Turkey but hoping for Wanderers return

Former Western Sydney fan favourite Kerem Bulut has fired his career back to life in Turkey, but admits he misses playing for the Wanderers and would return to the A-League club "in a heartbeat" if given the chance.

Kerem Bulut

Kerem Bulut celebrates with the fans after guiding his side Menemenspor to victory Source: Twitter @MenemenspoResmi

After a tumultuous twelve months since being axed by Western Sydney, the enigmatic striker has rediscovered his love for the game, and most importantly his eye for goal, with Turkish second tier side Menemen Belediyespor.

A four-month stint with German third division club SV Wehen Wiesbaden after his Wanderland exit was marred by a hamstring injury and left the 25-year-old frustrated and desperate for a fresh start.

“I had many sleepless nights and lost my love for the game as I battled to get back to fitness," he reveals

“I tried my best to stay mentally strong and focused. I knew I could come back and I’ve been working hard on and off the pitch since making the move to Turkey to get back to my best.”

In July Bulut signed with .2 Lig side Menemen Belediyespor and he hasn’t looked back, scoring six goals and providing five assists in just twelve games to help his side climb to the top of the Turkish third division ladder.

He admits being able to replicate the same environment he had in his first stint at the Wanderers - where he had a great relationship with his coach, plenty of minutes and a supportive fanbase - has fuelled his return to form.

“Everything is going fantastically for me at the moment,” Bulut said.

“It’s like back in the Western Sydney days when I had just signed for the club and was scoring goals. I have a great connection with the fans at my club in Turkey and their passion has helped me get back to my best.

“I have a very similar relationship to the head coach (Suat Kaya) as I did with Tony Popovic which I need to reach my potential.

“While it didn’t work out for me in Germany, I knew once I started to get more minutes on the park my confidence would return and so would the goals.”

The Western Sydney product admits he remains a passionate Wanderers fan despite his acrimonious departure from the club.

Ahead of what's set to be a heated Sydney derby on Saturday, he said playing in front of the Red and Black Bloc was still one of his most treasured football memories and he holds out hope of one day making a return to his hometown team.

“I can’t lie and say I don’t miss playing there,” Bulut said.

“I had a great time at the Wanderers. If I ever come back to Australia and get the chance to play for them again I would do it in a heartbeat. It is a fantastic club with fantastic fans and I’m still really passionate about them.

“Hopefully in the future I get that chance but right now I need to continue to perform and repay the faith given to me by everyone at Menemenspor.

“One thing which held me back previously is I would tend to look ahead too much and forget about the now. 

"I’m trying to set more short term goals and doing everything I can to achieve them. who knows where it will take me in the future."

Bulut’s move to turkey has coincided with his former boss Popovic taking over as coach for Super Lig side Karubukspor.

There's speculation Popovic may sign a host of Australian players during the January transfer window. But while the striker would welcome a reunion with Popovic, he doesn’t expect one anytime soon.

“Popa and I have a strong connection away from football and I really hope he finds success with Karubukspor. From what I’ve seen he has quite a hard challenge ahead of him but if anyone is to find a way to win it will be him,” he said.

“If the opportunity arose to play under Popa 100 per cent I would love to do it, but for now I think we are both very much focused on our own challenges.

“Popa and (former Wanderers goalkeeping coach) Zeljko Kalac share the same translator as I had when I played for Akhisarspor. Through him I have sent my regards to both of them but other than that we haven’t really spoken much.”

With three months of the 2. Lig season yet to play, Bulut believes his renewed focus will help him maintain his early season form and hopefully lead Menemenspor to Turkish 1. Lig promotion.

“I’ve set the target of 15 goals this season and I’m nearly halfway there so I’m confident I can achieve that mark,” he said.

“The team is flying high on top of the table and there is a great feeling at the club.

“It’s a great atmosphere to be a part of and I’m just giving everything I can to help the team achieve success."

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5 min read
Published 9 December 2017 at 10:33am
By Nick Houghton