With the BVB since



11.01.98 (26)


Germany / Türkiye

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Salih Özcan

The 26-year-old midfielder has been under contract with Borussia Dortmund since July 2022. As of June 2024 (the cut-off point for all statistics), he has made 70 appearances for BVB across all competitions (no goals / two assists).

Salih Özcan was born to Turkish parents in Cologne on 11 January 1998 and joined his first club as an eight-year-old. However, in his very first year at SC West, he caught the eye of the youth development scouts at 1. FC Köln and moved to Geissbockheim after only one season in the summer of 2007. Shortly after his 18th birthday, he joined Köln's Regionalliga side. But the highly-talented midfielder wasn't in the Regionalliga for long, as former head coach Peter Stöger included Özcan, who was captain of the Germany U19 national team at the time, in his squad for the second Bundesliga match of the 2016/17 season. The defensive midfielder got plenty of playing time, making 13 appearances in his first Bundesliga season. ​"He had to work to earn every appearance," said Peter Stöger. In 2017, Özcan was awarded the Fritz Walter gold medal – given to the best young player in his year group – by the German Football Association (DFB). “He’s not afraid to put his body on the line and uncompromisingly gives everything for his team to succeed,” praised BVB sporting director Sebastian Kehl.

Following a one-year loan spell with Holstein Kiel, Özcan earned himself a regular starting berth in the Köln line-up at the start of the 2020/21 campaign. “kicker” described him as “an aggressive No. 6 or 8 with good vertical passing who can shut opponents out like a wall”. On 21 November 2021, he scored the first of his two top-flight goals to date in the match against Mainz 05. Özcan impressed in the 2021/22 season not only as a midfield enforcer – in total, he contested the most duels of all the Köln players, winning a respectable 52% of them – but also going forward, with a pass completion rate of 88%.

“I could be a bit more dangerous in front of goal. That might not be the decisive factor in my position and I’m of course just as happy about every win in which I don't score a goal. But there's still room for improvement in that regard,” he told the members’ magazine “Borussia” (Issue 198). In contrast, his ‘escape rate’ of 72% in his first season with BVB was one of the best in the league: he was able to resolve many pressure situations by keeping the ball with his own team. Salih Özcan has two BVB team-mates, Nico Schlotterbeck and Karim Adeyemi, “with whom I won the 2021 U21 European Championships in Slovenia. That was a great thing for us.”

Özcan played for Germany's youth teams at all levels starting with the U15s and won the European Championship with the U19s in 2021, starting in the 1-0 win against Portugal in the final. In March 2022, he made the decision to switch allegiances and play for Türkiye, where he is a current senior international (and was also at the EUROs). In his life, Özcan has not only had to choose between two national teams but also between two sports. He could have also had a respectable career as a wrestler. “I was good. Maybe not enough to win the German Championship but I could have achieved decent placements. And yet for me it was never on the cards to give up football for wrestling. And even my dad, who is a really big wrestling fan and whom I even faced on the mat, would never have thought of talking me out of football for wrestling.”

And the footballer has not only made headlines on the pitch. As a 15-year-old, he saved an 11-year-old who had been hit by a train while riding his bike by quickly stepping in to take care of the seriously injured boy until paramedics arrived on the scene.

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