Hammer aiming for Glory

It may be something of a long shot calling Perth Glory's Billy Mehmet an 'old warrior' at the ripe old age of 27, but the former Scottish Premier League striker has been signed by a football club since the age of eight, so he seems a perfect candidate to open our War Horse series featuring veterans in the Hyundai A-League.

It may be something of a long shot calling Perth Glory's Billy Mehmet an 'old warrior' at the ripe old age of 27, but the former Scottish Premier League striker has been signed by a football club since the age of eight, so he seems a perfect candidate to open our War Horse series featuring veterans in the Hyundai A-League.

Mehmet may have only just arrived in Western Australia as the very latest addition to Ian Ferguson's squad, but the forward has enjoyed a long and successful career from the time he pulled on the boots as a child for West Ham to making a name for himself as a dangerous striker with Dunfermline and St Mirren in the SPL.

Born in London, Mehmet's background is Irish, Turkish Cypriot and English and he's represented the Republic of Ireland at Under-21 level.

But after a frustrating last few years in Turkey with Genclerbirligi - where he met Glory teammate Shane Smeltz - and Samsunspor, Mehmet is hoping to find some consistency in his football with a Perth Glory side determined to atone for last season's disappointments.

"I was playing with Shane in Turkey and at the end of last season I left Turkey because the way the football was and the way the club's treat foreigners, it was just something I wanted to get out of," Mehmet explained.

"It was good for money but for playing it wasn't exactly what I wanted."

"At the end of the season I wanted to cancel my contract but the club took an extra month to get it sorted, so after that I got in touch with Smeltzy and I said I wanted to give it a crack [in Australia]."

"I went to Wellington Phoenix for a week but when I went there, I got injured and played in a formation which ... was a 4-5-1 and it was me dropping onto their deepest midfielder, which doesn't suit my style of play."

"After that, Ian Ferguson got in touch, and he wanted me to come to Perth to sign straight away. It was a bit confusing but it's all sorted now and I'm looking forward to it."

With Ferguson completely overhauling Perth's squad during his first pre-season in charge of the team, Mehmet is one of a number of new arrivals.

Although it's sometimes difficult coming into an established team and making a mark, Mehmet believes the fact Perth have so many newcomers has meant everyone is in the same boat, getting used to a new coach, new system and new city.

"I'm enjoying it, the boys are brand new and everyone's been so welcoming so it's made it easier," he said.

"We've all got to be on the same wavelength, do and it's a new start for all of us, so hopefully we can do better than the team did last year."

"But I love everything about Australia. I have a one-year deal and I'm just going to work hard and hopefully prove that I'm worthy of a new contract when it comes to the time. But at the moment, I'm just concentrating on trying to get a start and trying to get into the team."

The trivia buffs out there might be interested that Mehmet is the youngest person is to score a first-team goal for West Ham, when he was just 14..

Mehmet spent 11 years with the London club and was captain of their academy before transferring to Dunfermline in 2003, aged 19. Although he started at a young age, Mehmet felt it helped him become the person he is today.

"When I first joined West Ham, you learn a bit earlier than what you might in other countries. There're extra things they make you do when you go home and they keep a good eye on you. They come in and they always test you to make sure you're at the level they want you at. What age you're at determines what level you're at, so they don't push you too hard, but they want you to get to a certain level as quick as you can."

"You have to grow up quicker. Most boys' dream in England is to be a footballer and when you get a chance just got to take it. There's times when your pals are going out and they're having a drink and you've got to sacrifice that and have an early night 'cause you've got your match the next day."

"But if you do all that and give yourself the best opportunity then you get a head start in life. Then, when you go home and see your friends and you've got a football (career) and they're maybe not doing anything, it just goes to show it was worth it."

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