Australian exports Kerem Bulut and Terry Antonis grew up in adjoining suburbs in western Sydney, graduated through the same youth systems into the national setup – and have now been reunited in the Greek Super League.
Friends since the age of 10, the pair now both call the coastal city of Thessaloniki home, with Bulut fast establishing himself at new club Iraklis while the ink is still drying on Antonis's three-deal with crosstown rival PAOK.
Bulut missed the opening league game of the season, a 1-0 win at Kalloni on Sunday (AEST) with a slight ankle injury.
While Bulut was absent, another ex-Western Sydney Wanderers man tasted action with Brazilian midfielder Vitor Saba coming off the bench for Kalloni in the 67th minute of the narrow loss.
Antonis’s PAOK begins its campaign against Xanthi on Monday (AEST).
Former Wanderers firebrand Bulut has been helping Antonis adapt to his new environment, after his $500,000 move from Sydney FC, and is pleased to have him around.
However, relations may not be so cordial ahead of the local derby on 18 October, when the duo could clash had on.
“We’ve already caught up with each other, and he’s happy to be at a good club and a big rival," Bulut said. “When we meet in the derby maybe we'll end up kicking each other!
“We’ve been mates since were kids, playing with each other and against each other, from the NSW Institute of Sport through to the U-17s and U-20s national teams."
Bulut believes Antonis has a game tailor made for success as he embraces his long sought after move to Europe.
“I think it will fit his style well. He’s a very technical player and they like to play out from the defence in Greece and that will suit hs game," he said.
“I rate him as player and also as a person. PAOK have some big players but once Terry settles in, I think he’ll get into the side, for sure.
“The Greek league is defensive. It's very competitive and there are not too many goals ... you don’t see many 3-3's or 4-3's. It’s always very tight. But it’s a good level."
Having his countryman nearby is also something Bulut is excited about also.
"It’s great to have an another Aussie boy here ... we can be together here and talk through any problems we might have," he said.
“It’s much easier when you have somebody you know around. We even train close by and I think we'll also be living in the same area.
"I am excited for both of us."
Renowned as a threat through the middle during his stints in the Czech Republic, Turkey and most recently the A-League, 23-year-old Bulut, who scored six goals in 13 appearances for the Wanderers, has been playing in a wide role during the pre-season, most recently in the 2-1 loss to Italy’s Fiorentina.
He’s been making a positive impression on Iraklis coach Nikos Papadopoulos, and will be in contention for his league debut against Panionios in a week's time.
“Playing on the left is not a familiar position, but I will play anywhere the coach puts me,” he said. "It’s good to learn a different role, and add some versatility to my game.
“As long as I am playing that’s the main thing, I will do my job and I always want to score goals, no matter what.
“I aim to go out and make an impact in every game, and put in a good performance, not just an average one. I want to get better with each match.”
Bulut’s target is to break through for the Socceroos en route to Russia 2018 but he knows he has to produce the goods with his club first.
“At this time, I need to put my head down and work hard and hopefully get noticed," he said. “If you are doing well, you will get rewarded with a chance for the national team.
"With Terry also being here, hopefully they will come and watch both of us.”