Central Coast Mariners fans owe a debt of gratitude to an unlikely source following this week's arrival of former English Premier League midfielder Jem Karacan.
Karacan signed for the Mariners from Tim Cahill’s former English Championship side Millwall, having previously played in the top flight with Reading and enjoying a spell with Turkish giants Galatasaray.
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He turned out alongside current Mariners defender Kalifa Cisse and Sydney FC striker Adam Le Fondre while at Reading, and says it is all down to the free-scoring Le Fondre that he finds himself in Gosford.
“I wanted to try something new,” the 29-year-old said. “Alfie [Le Fondre] is here, doing well in Sydney, and he was on my case every day, telling me I’d love it.
“I’ve put all my trust in him, he’s a very close friend of mine.”
With more than 240 senior games under his belt, Karacan is hopeful that his top-level experience can help the Mariners climb up the ladder after a challenging first half of the campaign.
“It hasn’t been great this season for Central Coast. They’ve been very unfortunate with some decisions going against them in recent weeks," said Karacan.
“I’m really hungry. I’m here to win football games. If I can help the team I’ll be extremely happy.”
“Hopefully my experience [in the Premier League] can help here.”
Having left a northern European winter for heatwave conditions on Australia’s east coast, Karacan admits it might take him a few days to acclimatise to the playing conditions in the Hyundai A-League.
“It’s a big difference, and I felt it today,” he said. “I experienced a bit of it in Turkey, not as hot, but it’ll take some getting used to.”