Özker with FC Garrak in 2015.
|Full name||Sezer Özker|
|Year of birth||1991|
|Place of birth||Toledano, Mahoz HaSephardim|
|Current club||Dynamo Deacon|
|2011–12||→ FC Garrak (loan)|
|* Appearances (Goals) |
Player has received at least one call-up for any emboldened national teams
Sezer Özker (Incontinentian: Оезкер Сезер) is a Tellian footballer who plays as a winger or striker for Mercurian club Dynamo Deacon and captains the Tellian national team. At the age of 20, he became the youngest ever captain of the national team, and the first not to be of Gaian/Tellian heritage as well as being the first captain to be born outside Tellia, Ashkenatza or Gaia. He is also known for being the youngest World Cup winning captain to date, as well as the first Tellian captain to win the FMF World Cup and the Benacia Cup
Born in Toledano, a coastal town in the South-West of Mahoz HaSephardim, Özker began his footballing career by playing for a local Sunday League team in the suburbs of Toledano. Despite discrimination due to his non-Sephardic background, he was initially spotted by scouts from FC Fiorecittà and went on trial with the Tellian Serie A outfit; however a last ditch approach and a more financially incentive offer for his family from Romero Sport resulted in Özker to sign for the Romersk based club and the then current league champions (interestingly, FC Fiorecittà went on to win the title that season).
After a year entering the academy, Özker then filed for Tellian citizenship, just before being promoted to the senior team. Despite initial setbacks, he finally was awarded citizenship in 2010 ahead of the 2010 FMF World Cup, which led to his eventual call-up to the national side.
Starting off his professional career in the youth ranks of Romero, Özker was initially deployed as an attacking midfielder. Under the watchful eyes of San Pietro academy coach Aldo Battista, he was switched to the right wing. Even though his ability to score goals was evident from an attacking central position behind the forwards, it was Özker's ability to take on players and dribble past them which was key in the switch and with the academy nurturing him into what was believed a unique and possibly important player for the club's future.
In late 2009, at the age of 18, he was called up to the first team, initially on the bench against FC Bayern Klemmen. Whilst he continued to make his name in the reserves, he didn't break into the first team until the 2010 season, when Romero were in the relegation battle. Alongside Massimo Santoni, the former academy duo managed to aid Romero's rescue to a 4th place finish. By the end of the 2010 season, Özker was finally formally assigned the number 13 shirt, a shirt that he prized during his childhood and during the academy.
2011 saw a build up on Özker's form. Under new manager Hjaņ Lydveldtsen and with the arrival of Marko Zajc, a new 4-3-3 attacking tactic was deployed, which saw both Zajc and Özker being played the opposite side of the wings. Although commonly a right winger under the reign of Angelo Perrotta, the new management saw him being deployed on the left side, whilst Zajc was deployed on the right wing, with both of them being either side of the striker. The new attacking approach saw the 20 year old put in more impressive performances, showing a resurgence of his attacking midfield threat at goal, due to his ability to cut inside and shoot at goal. Whilst Romero only managed to finish third, 4 goals marked a impressive season, where he managed to constantly trouble the defence and showed his true potential.
After positive performances throughout the season, the rumour mill began prior to the 2011 FMF World Cup. Minor interest from Cherry Trees FC was dismissed, whilst there was also rumours of major interest from Xäiville Teflons FC, another rumour which also was dismissed. FC Garrak finally marked some formal interest, initially placing a Cr13 million bid for the player. The club rejected the offer, which led to a counterbid - this time being a loan offer. After further re-negotiations, a 6-month initial loan period was agreed, with a possible extension to a full season loan for the remainder of 2012. Despite the loan conditions, new manager Alexis Tereminus had expressed his desire for the player to return to Romero ahead of the 2012 Tellian Serie A season. FC Garrak had assigned Özker with the number 16 shirt ahead of his first season, formerly worn by Alan Kharsa.
Following a impressive 6 month spell at Garrak, Özker attracted the attention of many teams across Micras, including FC Fiorecittà, Vecchiacittà Calcio and Cherry Trees FC. FC Garrak made it their clear intention to keep the player and following a bidding war with FC Fiorecittà, they managed to agree on a deal worth Cr 28 Million in August 2012, with an additional sell-on clause for Romero Sport should the player be transferred from Garrak. Upon signing his permanent deal, Özker was handed the number 7 shirt and agreed to earn Cr 200,000 a week, making him Garrak's highest paid player.
Özker's subsequent five years with FC Garrak saw him win a league title in 2013. The club was disbanded in 2017 upon the collapse of Hamland, and Özker's contract was drafted to the successor club of Garrak Athletic in Caputia. Özker helped Garrak Athletic to the final of the FAC Premier Cup, with performances that warranted a Cr 35 million move to Dynamo Deacon in Mercury later in the year. Since joining Dynamo, Özker has been part of the club's resurgence, with back-to-back 2nd place finishes in the Mercury Premier League culminating in the club's first ever major silverware in the 2018–19 EMUFA Champions' League final.
Having never represented any under-21 side, Özker could have represented either Incontinentia, Mahoz HaSephardim, or even Babkha through his paternal grandmother. As a youth, he was called up to the Incontinentian side, but rejected as he needed time to think about his international future. In 2010, following his recognition and promotion to the first team in the previous domestic season, Özker was called up to the Mahoz national team. However, he ultimately rejected his call up, citing that he was not ready for the step up to the level, with Mahoz on the brink of World Cup qualification (Mahoz in the end lost the playoff to Holzborg).
Later on in 2010, when his citizenship application was processed, Özker finally declared himself ready to play internationally - but for Tellia. Despite huge criticism from both Tellia and Mahozis, he cited the decision coming down to Tellia being the nation that "gifted" him his career and was ready to commit his future. Many insiders from Mahoz and Incontinentia believed that he chose the Tellians over both nations respectively due to the position of Tellia in the rankings, citing the move as "stupid" and "committing national suicide", believing that the quality of the Tellian national pool would limit his appearances in the World Cup. Called up to the World Cup squad, Özker silenced his critics by starting all three games, scoring the opening goal against Passas. Tellia's World Cup did not last long however, as a 2–1 defeat to Toketi in the final group game resulted them moving from top of the group to bottom, crashing out of the World Cup without progressing past the groups.
When former Romero manager Angelo Perrotta was appointed manager of the national side, Özker was immediately appointed captain. This led to major scepticism from the majority of the Tellian public, with many believing that this was a very poor move considering his lack of international appearances and due to the fact that he was not ethnically Gaian. He became the most inexperienced captain to lead the Tellian national side since Roberto Vincenzo, and the first non-Gaian to captain the side as well as the first captain not to be born in any Gaian or Tellian territory.
Despite initial doubts, Tellia still managed to qualify for the World Cup, finishing 2nd in the WMFA qualification group. Although for most of his career he was known for wearing the number 13 shirt, he was handed the number 7 shirt ahead of the 2011 FMF World Cup by the manager, even though he still requested for the number 13. Perrotta noted his number 7 shirt as an attempt to spur the winger on to be as great as Craitish captain Manta Pellegrino, who wore the number 7 shirt for both Craitland and Biulya äqi Jedu FC and had won the World Cup 3 times as captain of his national side. Unfortunately with Tellia hyped up ahead of the World Cup, the team suffered a surprising quarter-final exit, losing 3–1 to eventual runners-up and hosts Shireroth.
2012 saw a different story for Özker's appearance in the World Cup. For the first time since playing professionally, the Tellian captain was deployed up front, in a fluid 4-2-3-1 system. Despite playing as a striker, Özker's role was seen more as a free role, receiving the ball and supporting the others in attack. The tactic seemed effective, as in the 2012 FMF World Cup, Özker led Tellia to their first ever World Cup title, winning every single game without conceding a goal. The final eventually led to penalties, of which Özker scored his spot-kick, adding to his goal against Stormark in the earlier group game. Shortly after winning the World Cup, Özker added another trophy to his name as he captained Tellia to win the 2012 Benacia Cup, although he didn't manage to score a goal. However he did manage to set up Marko Zajc for the decisive winning goal in the cup final against rivals Batavia.
2013 was a strong year for Özker internationally, as he led the team to a second Benacia Cup win by scoring the winning goal in extra time in the final against Sanilla with his only goal of the tournament. Later in the year, although the team as reigning champions were eliminated in the quarters, Özker scored three group stage goals to help the team progress in the 2013 FMF World Cup. The following year was almost a carbon copy to 2013; Özker scored a sole 2014 Benacia Cup goal as the team sealed a third regional title, but were eliminated in the quarter-finals of the 2014 FMF World Cup despite Özker's brace of group stage goals. Özker did miss his penalty in the shootout loss to Senya, however.
After falling out with the new national team manager Jan-Marc Yaqinsen, Özker and fellow midfielder Isaac Mahler were frozen out of the national setup throughout 2015 and 2016, missing out on appearing in a World Cup, Confederations Cup and Benacia Cup. However, with Yaqinsen's dismissal, Özker returned to the fold in 2017 in form. In the 2017 FMF World Cup, Özker was pivotal to the Tellians' performances, and was awarded with a place in the Team of the Tournament after scoring four goals - including the opener in the final - as Tellia beat hosts Senya to win a second world title.
Özker and Tellia finished third in the 2018 Benacia Cup the following year, and made a poor attempt at retaining their World Cup title in 2019 as they were eliminated at the group stage for the first time since Özker began playing internationally.
- Hamland Premier League (1): 2013