Fiery striker Kerem Bulut admitted “you either love me or hate me” as he continues to make a name for himself in Greece – in a new role as a winger.
The 24 year-old former Western Sydney Wanderers marksman is feeling more love than loathing from the fans of Super League side Iraklis in his debut season, after being transformed into a wide man by coach Nikos Papadopoulos.
The Iraklis hierarchy have embraced and harnessed the volatile talent, whose firecracker temperament is matched only by his vivid body art and larger than life persona.
“I am the type of character that people either love or hate,” mused Bulut, whose vibrancy and devilish streak made him a hit in Wanderland during his short-term deal last season.
“Some people don’t understand me and think I’m crazy ... but then there are also the ones that do get me.
“It seems to be back or white with me, there’s no in between. But I think there’s a lot more love than hate, especially with the Iraklis supporters.
“The Greek fans are very passionate, just like me. They make their feelings known and are some of best. It’s similar to Turkey.
“They live the game and they expect the best from you. I am an emotional type of player and I think they relate to that.
“It was a similar thing at the Wanderers, which is why I had a good bond with the fans there also.
“I need to have that passion in my game, it helps me play that way I do.”
Hampered by a hamstring injury earlier this season, Bulut insisted he’s never been fitter in his second coming to Europe, after spells in the Czech Republic and Turkey.
And he has no qualms about his new life on the wing, so long as he is getting picked each week.
Speaking before of Sunday’s 1-0 win over PAS Giannina - Bulut’s 12th appearance of the season after coming on as a first-half substitute - he said: “It's not really my favoured position but the most important thing is I am playing week-in week-out in a good European league.”
Yet to be capped at senior level, the former Australian youth sensation – who has a two-year deal in Greece - hopes his deeds have not gone unnoticed by coach Ange Postecoglou as he ponders his squad for March’s FIFA World Cup qualifiers against Tajikistan and Jordan on home soil.
“Obviously, I am playing as a winger but I think people know what I can do through the middle,” said Bulut, who scored six goals in 13 games for Western Sydney.
“Our coach has his system and his plan and I can’t argue with that. Every coach has his different style and tactics.
“I think with the national team, hopefully people will know me as No.9. I know Ange picks the players why are playing regularly, and I am doing that.
“I have actually surprised myself in learning this new role. I am playing on both wings, and switching during games.
“I needed game time … I am putting together a good run and it’s really helping me.
"I am running more that I would as No.9, tracking back and defending and I am all the stronger for it.”