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Exclusive: Erkut Sogut talks Arsenal, Ozil & a movie deal for his book

Erkut Sogut's face appears on the screen of our scheduled Zoom-call just as agreed but only to apologise.

"I'm on another call with a radio station in Turkey, it is running a bit late, can we pick it up in 10 minutes?". Of course, we can, is nothing if not flexible, and 20 minutes later, Mr. Sogut reappears.

"Sorry about that, we got held up by a horserace in Istanbul". What can you do?

Welcome to the busy life of Erkut Sogut, primarily known in the public eye as a football-agent, who came into prominence, when he brokered an astoundingly good contract for Mesut Özil at Arsenal. He is, however, so much more than a football-agent. He runs various businesses; teaches at universities, and he's even found time to write a couple of books.

The latest being the primary reason for to link up with German-born Sogut. A busy man who likes to talk, and while this might sound customary for a football-agent, once in his company, he comes across as a man with a sincere intention to shed a light on the often shady business of football-agency. But also, a man constantly seeking to grow, not only his business but also himself. The latter was the reason for him and the family upping sticks and moving to Orange County earlier in 2022. But why the USA?

"Sport, education and universities are so intertwined in America, and I wanted to come here to grow my own academic career. At the universities here you have sports-management, sports law, sports-marketing. Also, the MLS is growing and then there's Mexico and Canada close by. And of course a little easier access to South America," the man who wrote a book about how to become a football-agent tells us.

"I love sharing knowledge. Everyone working for my agency is someone I taught myself, and now they work as agents, sports lawyers etc. For me, that is the best way to recruit. Right now, I have students in Japan, Colombia, Africa, and even if they don't join my company, I still have a contact in a certain country. My current CEO in Europe is from Austria and studied with me seven years ago in London. So, for me, teaching is also building my network."

He latest book, 'Deadline', his first fictional novel, is about nepotism in football and the reception has been good.

"I've been approached by three different companies about turning it into a film, so now I need an agent," Sogut laughs. But how about colleagues in the business? Quite a few of them can't be too happy about a guy sharing stories from an often reviled world?

"Listen, the stories I've collected for the book are partly based on my own experiences, partly research, things I've read about. I am not making these stories up; they can be found on the internet. I am just building these stories into a world with fictional characters," he shrugs.

Erkut Sogut has been very public in his criticism about nepotism in particularly German football, not least serial title-winners Bayern Munich, but stresses it happens everywhere.

"I am born and raised in Germany, I've played football and worked in Germany which has given me an insight to what goes on there, but nepotism is all over the place," he states matter-of-factly.

Erkut Sogut not least made his name as an agent for Mesut Özil. It's a relationship which has since ventured into other areas away from football.

"After winning the World Cup in 2014, we looked into ways of capitalizing on the fact that Mesut Özil was now a World Cup champion as well as the number 10 at Real Madrid," Sogut explains about the process which led to the successful 'M10' brand.

"The M10-brand is licensed in seven different countries and Özil makes more off than on the pitch these day," Sogut reveals.

Though injured at the time of writing, Özil remains on the books of Turkish side Istanbul Basaksehir after a move to boyhood-dream club Fenerbahce didn't turn out as planned. Relationships soured, just like it did at the end of his time with Arsenal, but German-born Özil remains a Gooner at heart.

"He could never play for another English club, he's not like (Pierr-Emerick) Aubameyang. He loved his time at Arsenal is still in contact with a lot of players, not least (Bukyo) Saka, they have a special relationship," says Sogut.

According to Erkut Sogut, the relationship between management and Özil never soured as much as reported by the media, and he's still a welcome guest at the club.

Erkut Sogut's book, Deadline, can be obtained at various outlets, while waiting for his upcoming books about nepotism and, next year, about racism in German football.

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Jacob Hansen

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