EXCLUSIVE: Behich on Melbourne Derby, Popa's time in Turkey

He was the first player sent off in a Melbourne Derby and Caltex Socceroos full-back Aziz Behich is looking forward to another spicy clash on Saturday night.

Behich broke through at Melbourne Victory in 2009-10 and went on to make five senior appearances before being released at the end of his debut season.

He then became the first man to appear for both of the two rivals when the newly-formed Melbourne Heart offered him a lifeline.

And the 27-year-old retains fond memories of his stint at the club now known as Melbourne City.

“I spent a lot of time at Heart and John van’t Schip and John Didulica pretty much revived my career,” Behich told a-league.com.au.

“After Victory I fell out of the picture with the A-League and had to take a backward step to the Victorian Premier League as it was then.

“I’m thankful to the club for me giving me another crack at professional football.

“Victory is a massive club as well with a big supporter base and playing there was also a good experience.

“It’s always a special game, the derby. The atmosphere is always great. I loved being part of it every time.

Aziz Behich
Behich knows the Melbourne Derby inside out.

“I’ll probably try to watch because a derby is a derby, it doesn’t matter what league it’s in it’s always going to be a feisty one which is enjoyable to watch.”

Behich’s successful second stint in Australia's top tier earned him a move to Turkish outfit Bursaspor, where he has racked up over 100 appearances.

The 19-time international was disappointed with the premature end of Tony Popovic’s time at Karabukspor, admitting the Super Lig can be a tough environment for coaches.

“For me it’s sad to see him go. I wanted to see him do well as a fellow Australian,” Behich said.

“Obviously Popa is a top coach, we all know that especially back home.

Tony Popovic
Popovic left Karabukspor in December.

“I’m not quite sure about the situation at the club but going by the media, with the president and board walking out, the situation at the end was a little bit difficult.

“I think for Australian coaches coming to Europe it might be even harder than for players to crack it over here.

“But I’m sure in no time he’ll get another job because of his qualities.”