'I thought I'd retired' - How Western United convinced Gulum to play again

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The veteran defender is ready for a return to the A-League with the competition's newest club

After dropping down to the Victorian State League with Whittlesea United last year, Ersan Gulum thought his days playing top-flight football were well and truly behind him.

But the former Besiktas defender, who was bought for a reported $11 million by Chinese side Hebei China Fortune in 2016, has been lured out of semi-retirement by new A-League side Western United.

The 32-year-old revealing coach Mark Rudan's enthusiasm and a realisation he was still relatively young, enough to ensure he delayed hanging up the boots. 

"I had probably thought in my mind I had retired," Gulum told Omnisport.

"I hadn't announced it but that's where I felt I was heading. I thought I'd start getting my coaching badges and I started that but I realised I'm still too young to give up playing.

"When I spoke to Mark Rudan, he excited me about what he wants to achieve. I wanted him to give me a reason to push myself again and body to become the same player I was three years ago when I played at the top level. His excitement is what triggered me."

Gulum, who has several caps for the Turkish national team to his name, previously played one season in the A-League with Adelaide United.

But in joining Western United, Gulum admits a new experience awaits him as the club look to start with a bang. 

"From Adelaide to Western United, it's a new club and no one knows what's going to happen or what we can achieve, but looking at the transfers we're heading in the right direction," he said.

"The club can make finals in the first year with the players we've signed. It should be our ambition to play finals in our first year.

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"I only know one thing and one thing only and that's to win games. I've always been at a club where you have to win every game and that's how you have to look at it.

"We're going to be a team that when teams play us, they'll struggle."

Western United have recruited 17 players to date with Socceroos defender Josh Risdon and Greek marquee Panagiotis Kone their most notable signings. 

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