The Courier & Advertiser (Perth and Perthshire Edition)

Mehmet ready to grab all the chances he can


It’s a way of life he’s grown accustomed to but it doesn’t make the challenges of being a reserve goalkeeper any easier for Dundee United’s Deniz Mehmet.

The English-born Turk has played the role for United with distinctio­n over the years since first joining the club in 2017: and previously for the likes of Falkirk, Queen of the South, Port Vale and in Turkey with Kayserispo­r.

When he started his football journey with Arsenal, Charlton and West Ham, and at the illustriou­s Manchester United youth academy, it’s maybe not how he saw his playing days going.

However, Deniz insists he is happy to be a stand-in for Tangerines No 1 Benjamin Siegrist. He demonstrat­ed as much at Forfar on Friday night, pitched in at the last minute after the Swiss stopper injured his hand in the warm-up at Station Park.

Deniz kept a clean sheet and Peter Pawlett’s secondhalf strike was enough to secure Scottish Cup progress and set up a quarter-final at Aberdeen this weekend.

“It was a bit of a surprise, you normally get a little bit more time than that,” Deniz said. “You usually get told at least a couple of hours before kick-off but it was about half an hour or so before.

“It’s just one of those things – Benji’s hand’s swollen a bit but hopefully he’s all right. I just had to get on with it and go out there and play.

“It’s always good to play, to keep a clean sheet and, obviously, going into the next round is what it’s about.

“It maybe wasn’t the prettiest of games at times but it was never going to be.”

Of Pawlett’s winner, he continued: “Pete’s a good player and he’s got himself fit again. He works very hard all the time and he’s got that quality about him.

“You saw that on Friday night – his goal was a good strike.”

Expanding on his role, in his two stints at Tannadice, Deniz seems relaxed about his lack of game time. There’s a feeling it could’ve been oh-so different, however.

Back in the 2017-18 season, under then-boss Csaba Laszlo, Deniz made 13 appearance­s – his careerhigh for one campaign.

Unfortunat­ely, he injured himself celebratin­g Scott Mcdonald’s equalising goal in their promotion play-off quarter-final win over Dunfermlin­e.

He remained at Tannadice for the following season to do his rehab but left for a brief spell at Queens during the campaign before returning to United in 2019-20.

Competing for just the one jersey is a tough life. For Deniz, though, it’s just about enjoying the minutes he does get and seeing where it takes him.

“I just go out and try to do the best that I can and enjoy the time I have,” Deniz added. “It’s not easy being a back-up goalkeeper.

“You get next to no game time because, unfortunat­ely, I can’t come on the pitch and play left back or go up front like some boys can do.

“It is what it is but I chose to be a goalie so I can’t complain. I didn’t want to run so there you go!”

The 28-year-old former Turkish youth internatio­nal is one match away from racking up a half century of appearance­s in a now decade-long profession­al career.

He’s been United’s cup keeper in both the Betfred and Scottish cups this term but is in line to make only his third Premiershi­p appearance of the season at Kilmarnock on Wednesday night.

With Siegrist likely to miss out, it means that long-awaited 50th run out is in Deniz’s sights and he hopes to convince manager Micky Mellon to give him more opportunit­ies.

Deniz added: “I was meant to not play at Forfar and play Kilmarnock so I

swindled my another game.

“My thoughts were always about preparing for Wednesday anyway and Forfar got chucked on me last minute so I’ll be ready.

“Hopefully he (Mellon) keeps me in. I’ve just got to go out there on Wednesday night and try to do my best again.

“We need to get through it as a team, work hard all week and just prepare as much as we can game by game.”

Whether he’ll get the gloves for United’s lasteight clash at Pittodrie on Saturday remains to be seen. But Deniz reckons going all the way to a Hampden showpiece is what the Terrors should be aiming for.

“It’s a good ambition for us to have,” he said. “Obviously, we’re not turning up to get beat, we want to go as far as we can in the cup.

“There’s still some strong sides in the cup now but, like I said, it’s game by game and you get that little way to

bit closer to the final. If we manage to get there it’s 11 v 11 and it’s a final so anything can happen.

“We’ve got Kilmarnock in midweek and need to focus on that but, obviously, that’s going to be in everyone’s sights.

“It’s the quarter-finals and hopefully we’re 90 minutes, or a little bit more, away from getting to Hampden.

“It’s all looking a bit more real so we just need to buckle down and see what we can do.”

With his Astroturf preparatio­n complete in Angus last week, second fiddle Deniz will be hoping it’s a case of 50 games not out at Rugby Park.

“We went to Forfar on Tuesday and Wednesday last week just to get used to it and adapt to it a little bit more,” he said.

“There’s nothing better than actually training on it so I think that was a good decision.

“Long sleeves and tights for Wednesday night definitely.”

 ??  ?? STARTING ROLE: Deniz Mehmet with Forfar opposite number Marc Mccallum after United’s cup win.
STARTING ROLE: Deniz Mehmet with Forfar opposite number Marc Mccallum after United’s cup win.

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