What have we learned from the Ersan Gulum saga?

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    Ersan GulumThe fallout to Melbourne-born and bred Besiktas defender Ersan Gulum’s decision to pledge his international future to Turkey rather than Australia has been immense. Debate has raged fiercely. The latest twist in the saga was Socceroos boss Holger Osieck publicly labelling the Turkish Football Federation as ‘collectors’.

    “I think no matter what quality a player offers … it is like being collectors that collect players for the sake of collecting,” Osieck said. “Four weeks ago no one talks about him and he did not even play, and now all of a suddenly he becomes the object of desire.”

    Osieck, as a German national, would have a well-formed opinion on the TFF, with Germany and Turkey having several battles over the years for national team players such as Mesut Ozil, Serdar Tasci, Nuri Sahi and the Altintop brothers to name a few, given Turks represent the largest ethnic minority in the Fatherland.

    But this is not about the Turkish.

    Turkey boss Guus Hiddink has been shrewd and clearly ruffled a few feathers in doing so, but he’s got his man. They have not broken any rules and that’s the nature of international football.

    Australia needs to realise this and the sooner we do, the better off we will be.

    Yet we have seen these issues before – Josip Simunic, Joey Didulica, Ante Seric – but it appears those running the Socceroos show have not learned anything from them.

    In this instance, at the end of the day, Gulum’s decision was his decision.

    Gulum said: “My family heritage is of Turkish descent and I am as Turkish as I am Australian. I walk the streets of Istanbul feeling right at home as I did in the back streets of Meadow Heights. It is the birth place of my parents, who also currently live in Turkey.

    “People would have differing views about my decision to play for Turkey, and I can assure everyone that it wasn’t an easy one.”

    You have got to respect him for making the decision either way, but what is alarming from an Australian perspective is the fact he named a complete lack of contact from the Socceroos set-up, at all age levels, as a reason behind his decision.

    The most damning aspect was when he said: “The first bit of contact came last week after the Turkish national team had called me for a possible call-up.”

    Yes, Gulum had been capped at under-23 level for Australia, but that was way back before the 2008 Olympics which he missed out on selection for.

    So if Osieck contacting him recently following his promotion to the Besiktas first-team was the first he had heard from the Socceroos set-up, at all age levels, in over two years then that’s a ridiculous situation, especially after he was named in the Turkish second tier team of the season last year.

    Everyone has had their say on this issue and people have pointed the finger at Graham Arnold and Pim Verbeek, but someone needs to be making these people accountable.

    Maybe Gulum was deemed not worthy of a call-up to the senior team or the youth set-up, but given his pedigree surely someone needed to keep in contact with the player. At least let him know what he needed to do to get a look-in.

    Australia is in a unique situation in the world of football, given the volume of players playing abroad, so systems and structures need to be put in place to ensure the FFA can maintain contact with these footballers.

    If something was in place, maybe Gulum’s decision would have been different. His comments certainly suggest so.

    And yes, Australia has had some success winning these dual nationality battles in recent times with players like Rhys Williams and Shane Lowry committing to the Socceroos, but Gulum’s saga shows there is a clear systematic issue which needs to be resolved.

    Alarmingly, I was in contact with another promising Australian-born talent, Newcastle’s 18-year-old Bradden Inman, back in August just after Osieck took over and he said he had not heard anything from the Socceroos set-up.

    Overnight Inman, who is nicknamed Kaka, was due to take his place in the Scotland Under-21 side which faced Northern Ireland’s Under-21 side.

    And while back in August after his Scotland Under-21s debut, Inman admitted he was still undecided about his international future, time is ticking away.

    Let’s hope we have learned something from this episode.

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    The Crowd Says (58)

    • November 18th 2010 @ 4:03am
      Tortion said | November 18th 2010 @ 4:03am | ! Report

      If I am honest I can’t blame him. Get to play in a country which universally loves the game. There is the possibility of playing in the Euro championship and of course the WC.

      I suppose you could say this is the down side of having such a multicultural and global sport.

      • Roar Pro

        November 19th 2010 @ 5:20pm
        gazz said | November 19th 2010 @ 5:20pm | ! Report

        I guess its also the downside of being such a multicultural nation too…

        • November 20th 2010 @ 1:11am
          Tortion said | November 20th 2010 @ 1:11am | ! Report


          Try counting the western countries that aren’t multicultural. Germany for one can tell you all about players playing for other countries. Have you seen the England squad? What about Albania? 11 Frenchmen. Amazing.

    • November 18th 2010 @ 6:15am
      anopinion said | November 18th 2010 @ 6:15am | ! Report

      How soft are these guys? No one is calling them to tell them what I have to do to represent Australia, therefore they sign with another country. Are these the people Australia wants wearing the green and gold? Probably not.

      Successful people set specific goals ad let nothing stand in their way. Others take what ever is on offer.

      When a person looks in the mirror does he see an Australian or a Turk (I hope this is acceptable word for Turkish National)? That is the country he should sign with.

      • November 18th 2010 @ 10:21am
        Chris K said | November 18th 2010 @ 10:21am | ! Report

        I think this is a bit harsh but I know where you’re coming from. As someone of mixed race and migrant parents it is hard because your neither really here nor there. You’re never truly accepted as Australian but you didn’t grow up in the country of your background so you’re not really from there either.

        It’s a tough decision and I feel for Ersan on this one. Obviously it just came down to who Ersan felt wanted his services more and valued him more. And the FFA have only begun showing interest weeks before he is due for a call up for Turkey.

    • November 18th 2010 @ 7:12am
      sledgeross said | November 18th 2010 @ 7:12am | ! Report

      It just shows there are way too many wogs in Australia and we shoudl stop all immigration so we dont lose the occasional young footballer (tongue in cheek!).
      Good luck to the kid. If he was any better than what we have currently, then we have stuffed up. If not, then good on him I guess. His parents have moved backed to Turkey, so his family is there. Either way, he will always be mentioned as an Aussie talent.

    • November 18th 2010 @ 7:31am
      ballboy said | November 18th 2010 @ 7:31am | ! Report

      Australians try and claim everything as their own, how many foreign born athletes has australia collected now?
      double standards, just becasue the quality of life here is great and attracts people over, it still steals people that are of great value to their true country.
      get over it, aussies are hypocrites and have double standards

      • November 18th 2010 @ 8:03am
        Derby County FC said | November 18th 2010 @ 8:03am | ! Report


        Commonwealth games was like watching the league of nations in green and gold at times. 😉

        • November 18th 2010 @ 2:41pm
          Realfootball said | November 18th 2010 @ 2:41pm | ! Report

          You actually watched the Commonwealth Games??

      • November 18th 2010 @ 8:58pm
        True Tah said | November 18th 2010 @ 8:58pm | ! Report


        what is someones true country?

      • Roar Guru

        November 18th 2010 @ 9:58pm
        jimbo said | November 18th 2010 @ 9:58pm | ! Report

        We are not hypocrites and do not have double standards.

        Gulum was born in Australia and grew up in Australia and has Turkish heritage – he is free to play for either country.

        Gulum told both the FFA and the Turkish FA that he wants to play for them and then he waits to see who picks him first.
        He also threatens and says if you don’t pick me I’ll play for another country.

        Australians don’t chose which country he plays for – the player does.

    • November 18th 2010 @ 8:17am
      Art Sapphire said | November 18th 2010 @ 8:17am | ! Report

      Gulum did not play for Turkey this morning. Get on the phone to the boy, Holger, and make him an offer he can’t refuse 😉
      Especially, after this morning’s debacle.

      • November 18th 2010 @ 2:41pm
        Realfootball said | November 18th 2010 @ 2:41pm | ! Report

        Yes! Never again Carney at left back, please.

        • Roar Pro

          November 19th 2010 @ 5:21pm
          gazz said | November 19th 2010 @ 5:21pm | ! Report

          Is it that simple? I thought you had to go through a FIFA process. i’m not certain its as easy as saying i pledge my allegiance here now… correct me if im wrong???

    • November 18th 2010 @ 8:58am
      jmac said | November 18th 2010 @ 8:58am | ! Report

      we should remember that tim cahill – who outwardly appears to wear his heart on his sleeve when playing for the socceroos and looks as though he would die for the cause – did in 2002 attempt to play for ireland. even the most patriotic and passionate players like cahill are pragmatic about these things, and so the FFA needs to do what other countries federations appear to be doing, and protect their playing assets. I mean, how hard is it to give these guys a phone call every now and then? It doesn’t mean you cap every player just to tie them in, but you at least ensure that if they do defect, you have done everything possible to make the decision a difficult one, and so you can be sure the player has decided they were more turkish, or welsh or whatever than they are australian, and then we can all move on. this is a great article, but I fear the aloofness and arrogance from the FFA on this issue will continue.

      • November 18th 2010 @ 11:16am
        Danny_Mac said | November 18th 2010 @ 11:16am | ! Report

        Cahill played junior rep for Samoa, and it wasn’t until FIFA amended the rules allowing players to change nationality if they had not yet earned a senior cap (which included friendlies, but there has been information that now suggest that International friendlies are not counted), that he was able to play for Australia, hence the late age of his debut. As for wanting to play for Ireland, I was not aware of this, but I’m not surprised… Players want to play on the biggest stage, and when the time comes to negotiate contracts, being “an international” is a significant barganing chip…

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