With minutes to go at Easter Road in the Edinburgh Derby on Sunday, Heart of Midlothian defender Alim Ozturk received the ball just inside the Hibernian half, touched it forward, and smashed a spectacular strike right off Mark Oxley’s cross bar and into the Hibs goal. It’s the type of goal a player only scores once in his career, and he described it to the media directly after the game.
“Gomis had the ball and it was the last minute, so I thought I’d go and step in and if he gives me the ball, I can shoot. So I controlled the ball and there was no-one in front of me and, I though ‘I’m gonna try it!’ It was amazing.
“I always try in training [to take] free-kicks and shots. It [the shot for the goal] was really far. It was just a moment, just a feeling that I could shoot. It was amazing!”
The goal brought Hearts’ unbeaten run to 11 straight league games, a fantastic start for a relatively new team, with a debutant head coach in Robbie Neilson and a new Director of Football Craig Levein. With Hibernian and Rangers already beaten, as well as a draw at Easter Road, its tough to see just who can end this run. “Of course [the record is important]. It’s a big game, Hibs and Hearts. Everybody knows that. And we know that it was not an easy game for us.
“1-0, ten men, last ten minutes. The first half was not good and the second half we tried to play. But we didn’t have a lot of chances. If you make the score 1-1 in the last few minutes, you are happy with the point.”
Hibernian manager Alan Stubbs referred to Ozturk’s goal as one which he could hit “a thousand times” and never score again. With the Turkish defender’s supposed love for trying shots like Sunday’s in training, he could potentially have been the butt end of many jokes in Riccarton. “Yeah they [his teammates] are always making jokes. They tell me ‘you won’t do that again’. After the game, everybody said to me ‘We saw that you were going to shoot and we though ‘no no!’ and then ‘yep! Oh yeah.’”
The 21-year-old has added a goal in one of Scotland’s biggest games to his CV, his first for the Gorgie club. “I know the Hibs and Hearts fans are not friends, I know that! It’s unbelievable to score in a big derby and I’m so happy I could make it 1-1.
“We have a good team. If we get injuries and suspended players it’s no problem, because we have a lot of good players. You’ve seen Danny [Wilson] go off and [Jordan] McGhee come in and he also played a good game. I hope that we can hold this unbeaten run and we will see how long it can continue.”
Image: Ozturk © Jerome Corby
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