Arslan: Melbourne or nothing

A great guy off the pitch, a competitive beast on it. 

Tolgay Arslan is an experienced German midfielder who will fight for it all once he crosses the white line.

“I can’t lose,” Arslan explains. “I will say sorry from now, but I will fight a lot… especially in Italy I get many yellow cards for that but yes, let’s just say I lose myself on the pitch because if you see me outside it, you would never think I’m so crazy on the pitch.”

“I’m a fighter, but I have good quality on the ball. I see myself in the midfield as a playmaker… in Udinese the last one and a half years I played kind of winger, kind of midfielder. It was such a different style of football but I’m so thankful for that because I learned a lot, I learned a lot about tactics and I learned a lot about how to defend.” 

His win at all costs attitude is something he can’t wait to bring to Melbourne City – a move that was an easy decision for the German midfielder

“Of course, I could also go to another club in Australia, but I said, ‘Melbourne or nothing’, when it’s Australia, and I was happy when given the chance to join,” Arslan said. 

“Important for me, was joining Australia while I’m fit. I saw many players came at the end of their careers. I want to join a country and put my stamp on [the competition] with my name. 

“The intensity in Udinese, I don’t know if you’ve heard about that, I don’t think that many teams in Europe would train like that,” he explains. “I’ve had that for three years now, so I feel fit and that was important for me. 

“It was important for me to join an amazing club and an amazing country… if I feel fit and I feel focused, I can change a lot there. I still feel young, I still feel very, very fit so let’s see what the journey will give us.”

Arslan boasts an impressive CV. He spent several years in Borussia Dortmund’s Academy before joining then-Bundesliga side Hamburger SV, where he’s shared a locker room with the likes of Mario Gotze and Son Heung-min. He’s played for Fenerbahçe and made over 100 appearances for both Turkish giants, Beşiktaşand Serie A side, Udinese. 

The 32-year-old won back-to-back Turkish Süper Lig titles with Beşiktaş and played an instrumental role in famously knocking English powerhouse, Liverpool FC, out of the 2015 Europa League knockout stage. 

Arslan levelled the tie in the second leg against the Reds, before netting the winning penalty in the shootout. It’s a moment that changed his life forever.

“It was an amazing feeling, I was new in Beşiktaş, it was in my first four or five games,” he reflects. “We played against Liverpool, they [Besiktas] had the big loss in the Champions League [against Liverpool] – the worst loss in the history, it was 8-0, and everyone expected we would have revenge on that.”

“We lost the first game at Anfield 1-0, and at home it was my goal, we go to extra-time. We won and from that moment my life really changed in Turkey. I couldn’t go out, I couldn’t enjoy time with my kids outside – I became a big name in Turkey.”

Just like the European knockout stages, Arslan thrives under the pressure of a derby. During his career to date, he’s played in many fierce rivalries, particularly during his time in the Turkish Süper Lig.  

“The derbies in Turkey are really something else, the day of the derby, Istanbul has a lot of traffic… a lot of people in the street,” he explains. “But the derby game is quiet, everybody is waiting for the game.” 

“It was massive pressure. It was not easy to play those games because one mistake and the people are going to remember you… they never forget. Every derby you have to perform, I played a lot, and I loved that pressure. 

“I want to see how it is [Melbourne Derby], I love the pressure.” 

Stay tuned for plenty more signing announcements in the days and weeks to come! 


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