Alim Ozturk is confident that Scottish football’s enhanced profile allied to his own Europa League involvement with Hearts can help secure him a maiden call-up to the Turkish national team.
The 23-year-old represented his country at Under-21 level but has never been involved in a full squad. Ozturk told the Evening News last September of his desire to earn international recognition while with Hearts. The captain remains adamant that he will one day play for his country and believes that, with the increased exposure Scottish football is likely to enjoy following the arrival of Brendan Rodgers as Celtic manager and Joey Barton at newly-promoted Rangers, the upcoming campaign represents the perfect chance to start making his mark. “With Rangers back and Brendan Rodgers at Celtic, good players will come to Scotland and make the league stronger,” he said. “That will make Scottish players better. It’s the same in Turkey where smaller teams are now bringing good players in. That is good for Turkish football and I think it’s really important for any league.
“I hope having big names in Scotland will help me get recognition from the national team. That’s the dream for me. Turkish people are really proud, and I am one of them. I can’t wait for the moment I play for my country. It will happen, it will happen. I believe in myself.”
Ozturk knows helping Hearts overcome the dismal Scottish coefficient to make the Europa League group stage in his first-ever continental adventure would aid his international prospects. The Tynecastle side found out on Monday that they will kick-off their campaign against FC Infonet of Estonia next week.
“This is my first time in Europe and I am looking forward to it,” he said. “I’ve never been to Estonia but it is a nice draw and I think we can go through. We have enough quality here and I am confident.
“I think it is really important for Scottish football that we do well. Hopefully Hearts and the other teams can do it for Scottish football. It is important to improve the coefficient. It can’t only be Hearts, though, it has to be other teams as well.”