Professionals | 12/11/2017

Interview with Salih Özcan

“I don’t have a starting spot”

Salih Özcan is one of the positive surprises this season. The 19-year-old spoke with fc.de to talk about competition, his connection to FC, and another sport he was once actively involved in.

fc.de: Salih, although the team has struggled, you have found your place in the team and stood amongst the starting eleven in ten straight matches. How do you see your role in the team?

Salih Özcan: “We have a lot of competition for our central midfield positions. You could say I am profiting from the injuries to Jonas Hector and Marco Höger, who are both important players. Then we still have Lehmann, Jojic, and Nartey, who could all line up in the center. I don not have a starting spot. I think the spot is still there for the taking.”

You are one of seven players on the roster that was born in Cologne. How does it feel to play for your hometown club?

“It is a great honor for me. I was born in Cologne, was raised here, and play for FC since the U9 days. As a young kid and as a fan, you always dream of one day playing for your club. That I am able to do so since last season is indescribably great.”

When you were younger, you also competed as a wrestler. Does it help at all for your footballing abilities?

“That is true. I started as a young kid because my dad and my brothers all competed. I wrestled until the U17 level and then I focused on football. I think it helps me a lot today because my center of gravity is lower and I benefit when I am fighting for the ball.”

In July, you were given the gold medal of the Fritz-Walter-Medaille (given to the most outstanding German youth player). What does this award mean to you?

“I am very proud to receive this medal from the DFB. The fact that players like Toni Kroos and Mario Götze won the award shows me where the path could lead. But I cannot be satisfied by this. For me it is motivation to further push myself.”

After the international break your season continues with a road match against Mainz. What are your expectations for this match?

“We have taken the mindset that each match is like a final. We have to be 100% determined to win the match and remain concentrated from start to finish. It will be important that we maintain our structure and to implement our strategy. In the end we have to win, no matter what happens.”

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