BY VAN DER MEGERDICHIAN
Armenian international football player Aras Ozbiliz has signed a 4 ½ year contract for Turkish club, Besiktas. After signing the Armenian, Besiktas loaned Ozbiliz out to Madrid based tier 1 club Rayo Vallecano.
Ozbiliz was born in Istanbul, in the Bakirkoy district, but moved to the Netherlands at a young age. His ancestors adopted the name “Ozbiliz”, literally meaning “one, who preserves his identity.” His jersey has Aras displayed on it, according to his wishes, as he is proud of his Armenian identity.
Ozbiliz began his career at the renowned Dutch club AFC Ajax. A product of one of the best footballing academies, Aras Ozbiliz was able to grow and mature and come into his own in Amsterdam. He represented Ajax at every level and thus was named Talent van de Toekmost, which is given to the most talented players to emerge from the academy. Aras from the start of his tenure at the club became a very pivotal component to his side. Playing against notable sides such as A.C. Milan and Real Madrid, he became the first ever Ajax player to score against Manchester United during their match at Old Trafford during the Europa League. Soon after Russian club Kuban Krasnodar swooped in and acquired Aras Ozbiliz from Ajax for €1 million.
The dawn of a new era began as Ozbiliz played 24 games and scored 11 goals in an impressive debut season in Russia. Russian powerhouse club, Spartak Moscow, noticed Aras Ozbiliz’s talents and immediately paid the €10 million transfer fee. There at Spartak Moscow, Aras joined fellow compatriot Yura Movsisyan (who knows has returned to Real Salt Lake FC). Movsisyan had just concluded arguably his best season and was named one of Russia’s top players of the season. Armenians have always had a place at Spartak Moscow, as their leading scorer to this day is Armenian, in Nikita Simonyan. Spartak legends Nikita Simonyan and Alexander Mirzoyan had penned letters to the Armenian pair congratulating them and wishing them success. Unfortunately, joy and success for Ozbiliz and Movsisyan did not last long in Moscow. Both players left the Russian club during the January Transfer Window of 2016.
Ozbiliz’s and Movsisyan’s transfers from the Russian club were filled with controversy. The appointment of Swiss Turkish manager, Murat Yakin, did not sit well with the Armenian contingent. Murat Yakin had made personnel decisions based on race and this angered Ozbiliz and Movsisyan alike. Omitting the Armenians from the squad and refusing to play them on a regular basis, although they were among the squad’s most dynamic player, came with hints of racial prejudice.
Aras is undoubtedly a very talented player and the Armenian community stands by him and wishes him the best at Rayo Vallecano.