Neilson hails Ozturk for his Hearts ‘gamble’

Robbie Neilson's squad travel south on Thursday. Pic: PHIL WILKINSON
Robbie Neilson's squad travel south on Thursday. Pic: PHIL WILKINSON
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ROBBIE NEILSON has hailed new recruit Alim Ozturk for taking a “financial hit” in a bid to ignite his career with Hearts.

The Turkey Under-21 centre-back became the Tynecastle club’s fifth summer signing when he agreed a three-year deal, and he is set to be paired in defence with club captain Danny Wilson.

A Dutchman born to Turkish parents, the 21-year-old Ozturk is hungry to get his career back on track after failing to establish himself in the Trabzonspor first team following a six-figure move from Dutch outfit Cambuur 18 months ago.

He joins Hearts after spending last season as a regular for Trabzonspor’s B team, but Neilson feels the 6ft 3ins defender has bags of potential.

“He is a good centre-half with good mobility and again is another excellent development prospect for us,” said the head coach. “He was playing with Cambuur in Holland but did so well he got a move to Turkey.

“He didn’t really enjoy things there, though, and ended up not playing for the first team, eventually moving to Trabzonspor’s B side. But he wants to get back playing and has taken a big gamble coming here as he has taken a big hit on his wages.”

Neilson feels Hearts have pulled off a coup in luring Ozturk to Edinburgh, admitting he didn’t think they’d be able to persuade him to play in Scottish football’s second tier. “I think the fans will really take to him,” he continued. “He is big, strong and athletic and is good on the ball, too. I think him and Danny Wilson will form a great partnership.

“We have been trailing him for a few weeks and didn’t think we had a chance of getting him but I’m delighted to have signed him and sometimes you just have to wait a little while to get players like him.”