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Turkish Cypriot signs professional contract with Omonia

Omonia's Tahsin Ozler

Turkish Cypriot footballer Tahsin Ozler signed his first professional contract with Omonia on Thursday.

Ozler, 18, is now contracted to the club until the end of the 2026/27 season.

He made history in January by becoming the first Turkish Cypriot since 1957 to play for the club’s first team, coming off the bench to play the last half an hour of the side’s 3-0 Coca Cola Cup victory over Digenis Ypsona.

He is just the second Turkish Cypriot to have played for Omonia’s first team, with the other, Ibrahim Aziz, having featured in the 1956-57 season.

He came through the club’s academy, having first signed at the age of 11 in 2017.

His rise through Omonia’s ranks marks a rare show of unity on a Cypriot football landscape which has faced division for longer than the island’s political scene.

The Cyprus Football Association (CFA) had initially been a bicommunal organisation, with Turkish Cypriot teams featuring in its competitions. Nicosia-based Turkish Cypriot club Cetinkaya even saw trophy-laden success in the early 1950s, going toe to toe with the likes of Apoel.

However, Turkish Cypriot teams were banned from playing at many Greek Cypriot-owned grounds in 1955, and thus set up their own association, the CTFA, with competitions separate from that of the CFA.

Previous efforts had been made to bring the two communities’ football associations closer had ended in failure.

As recently as Monday, CFA chairman George Koumas railed against the CTFA’s attempts to join the international football community after Turkish parliament speaker Numan Kurtulmus had said the CTFA had applied to join the Asian Football Confederation (AFC).

He said he had the aim of “ending once again what the Turkish Cypriots are trying to do.”

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