|By KIERAN FRANCIS
Full-back Aziz Behich has left Melbourne Heart to join 2010 Turkish Super Lig champions Bursaspor for an undisclosed transfer fee.
Heart announced on Tuesday that they had agreed to the transfer of the Australia international defender, with Behich due to fly out of Melbourne later that day.
He will available for Bursaspor's clash against Turkish giants Galatasaray - and potentially new signing Didier Drogba - on Saturday, pending an international clearance.
Green Gully Cavaliers product Behich, 22, made his A-League debut for Melbourne Victory in 2010, making five appearances before being signed by Heart for the 2010-11 season on a short-term deal.
He was then signed to a full-time contract after impressing at left-back for Heart.
"To make a move to a club that plays Champions League football is a dream come true and I really can't thank Melbourne Heart enough for giving me this opportunity," Behich said.
"I have loved my time at Melbourne Heart and all the support that I have received from the members since I joined.
"I will miss them and miss being around my old team-mates."
After being converted from a winger to a full-back, Behich established himself a first-team regular at Heart, winning his first Socceroos selection in November 2012 and being named in the year's PFA Team of the Year.
Heart coach John Aloisi was disappointed to lose Behich at a crucial time in the season but proud of his rise since he joined the club.
"To take Aziz from the state leagues of Victoria to face the likes of Didier Drogba and [fellow new Galatasaray signing] Wesley Sneijder is something Melbourne Heart can be enormously proud of," he said.
"It hurts to lose him at this stage of the season but how can you stand in the way of a player fulfilling his dreams.
"It's a great opportunity for the club to continue to grow and a chance for Aziz to establish himself as a genuine international for Australia."