He played in Cologne for 15 years, but this season Salih Özcan has joined BVB. In the interview, our new signing talks about his transfer, the upcoming reunion with his former club and Gennaro Gattuso.
What does home mean to you?
"Home means being comfortable, family, in the place where you know most people, the streets and the town or village. That's home to me."
You played for 1. FC Cologne for 15 years, broken up only by a loan spell at Kiel. How is your first real change of club as a professional?
"I am not finding it too bad and I have not had any problems. As a footballer, you are already away from your family a lot at a young age due to the games with your club and the national team. I feel very comfortable in Dortmund and found an apartment right away. That is very important to me."
Theoretically, you could have carried on living in Cologne…
"It's too far for me to live there. I might have done it in the early days. But if we train twice a day, and train a lot in general, it's better that I have my rest here. The constant trips back and forth are already exhausting."
How have you settled in Dortmund?
"Everything is great. All I have to do is try to find out where to eat well. I recently went to a good restaurant. I am gradually getting into it. We have also been on the road a lot due to the training camp and the away games. It's all a part of it."
You've also done a lot of martial arts in your life. Have you already found a club here?
"No, unfortunately not yet. At the moment, however, it is also difficult to do it alongside football because of the high demands on us. In Cologne, we often played only once a week. It's different here. It wouldn't be too smart if I were to practice martial arts at the same time. But if I have free time, I will use that opportunity and drive home to train there."
Why did you do martial arts alongside football?
"It came from my family – my father used to do it for many years. When we were young, four or five, he took us children with him. And so it came to be that I did martial arts alongside football. That has always been good for me personally."
There is a quote from you: "I'm more of a Gattuso type." Gennaro Gattuso is head coach at Valencia – one of the teams you faced in pre-season. Did you take the opportunity to talk to him?
"You could see that he was a bit more aggressive on the sidelines. He shouted a lot. We didn't talk, but I thought it was cool that I got to see him. He's the same on the sidelines as he was as a player."
Nico Schlotterbeck was just back in Freiburg. The game in Cologne is in just under six weeks. What do you think about going back there?
"I'm looking forward to it. I don't think the fans are going to boo me – I was at the club too long for that. I was also very grateful to them. Hopefully, we will put in a good team performance and then I will enjoy a nice reunion."
You won the European Championship title with the German U21s in 2021. Nico Schlotterbeck and Karim Adeyemi were also a part of that team. Is it an advantage that you are all new to BVB?
"It makes the transition easier. Getting into a new team all alone is different to knowing two or three players. It's nice to have them here."
Both have already completed their first competitive games in Black and Yellow. How much are you looking forward to your first appearance?
"Very much so – I can hardly wait. I was forced to take a break because of the injury, but as they say: the season is a marathon, not a sprint. I am going full throttle to get back out on the pitch. Things are looking up!"
Interview: Christina Reinke