New Hearts defender Alim Ozturk has been backed to be a success in Scottish football.
The 21-year-old centre-back penned a three-year deal at Tynecastle last week and met up with his new team-mates for the first time at Riccarton today.
Ross County forward Melvin De Leeuw played with the Turkey Under-21 internationalist for 18 months at Dutch side Cambuur and insists his former team-mate has all the attributes to be a big hit with the Jambos.
“He’s a good player for Scotland,” said De Leeuw, who left Cambuur for Dingwall shortly after Ozturk departed for Turkish giants Trabzonspor. “He’s a player who could play in the Premiership, so I think he will be comfortable in the Championship. It’s a good place for him to start and show what he’s got.
“He is aggressive and can play hard but he is also very smart and likes to play football. He has a good view and reading of the game. He won’t just kick the ball forward. He is very tall and good with his head but his passing is probably his best quality.
“When I played with him at Cambuur, he was one of the young guys in the team so he was quite quiet on the pitch, but he can certainly talk. He didn’t play every game at Cambuur because he was very young and we had a lots of older players, but whenever he played he did very well. He was also very good in training. He will be even stronger and faster now.”
De Leeuw feels Ozturk will fit in with Hearts’ demand that all new recruits possess good attitudes and set examples to the youngsters. “He does nothing wrong and doesn’t do stupid things,” said De Leeuw. “He’s a good guy and a good pro.”
Ozturk has already experienced the drama of the Edinburgh derby after attending Hearts’ 2-0 win over Hibs at Tynecastle in March 2012 as a guest of Jambos hero Mark de Vries, who was a team-mate of Ozturk and De Leeuw at Cambuur in the last year of his playing career.
“Mark took eight guys from Cambuur, including myself and Alim, to the Hearts-Hibs game two years ago so when Hearts came along I think it was an easy decision for him because we all loved the stadium and the club,” explained De Leeuw.
“That will definitely have been a big part in his decision to join Hearts.
“That game was also one of the reasons I decided to go to Ross County as it was my first real live football match in Scotland and I loved it.”
De Leeuw is looking forward to catching up with his friend during the course of the season. He said: “I will meet up with him when we have some time off. It’s a shame Hearts went down because it would have been nice to play against him. He’s very excited about coming to Edinburgh.
“He can speak English but he is worried that he will need to learn better English! That was the first thing he said to me. He has Turkish parents but he was born in Holland and Dutch is his main language.”
• Former Hearts striker Gordon Smith has joined Stirling Albion following his release from Raith Rovers at the end of last season.
The 23-year-old had a successful loan spell at the Binos from Hearts in 2010. He left Tynecastle just more than a year ago.