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Dundee United vs Hibs: Deniz Mehmet desperate to deliver for Arabs as he prepares for Hampden bow

Dundee United goalkeeper Deniz Mehmet.
Dundee United goalkeeper Deniz Mehmet.

Unsurprisingly, perennial back-up goalkeeper Deniz Mehmet’s only Hampden experience doesn’t involve actually taking to the pitch.

In fact, the Dundee United stopper wasn’t even involved in a game when he last set foot inside the national stadium.

While at Falkirk, the English-born Turkey youth international strolled through the Mount Florida arena on his way to conduct a fitness test.

Out of the windows of the offices that sit at the back of main stand, Deniz was able to get a glimpse of the hallowed turf.

The life of a back-up keeper: Dundee United’s Deniz Mehmet on a career spent playing the supporting role

The image has stuck with him ever since and, in cruel twist of fate, it appears he’ll have his opportunity to grace the Glasgow surface in this Saturday’s Scottish Cup semi-final against Hibs.

With Tangerines No 1 Benjamin Siegrist ruled out for the season with a wrist injury, Deniz has seized his opportunity in Micky Mellon’s first-team, starting the last four games.

In the biggest match of his senior career to date, Deniz is hoping to deliver for a Terrors support that inspired them to success at Aberdeen in the last round by playing his part in getting them to the final.

‘What it means to them is phenomenal and it means just as much to us’

“It will be a great occasion to be involved in,” 28-year-old said.

“We have done well to get here and we all know what it means to the club and the fans.

“The send-off for the quarter-final was amazing. What it means to them is phenomenal and it means just as much to us.

“We will try to deliver it for them.”

Of his experience of finals, Deniz continued: “In my youth I played big games but not anything like a Scottish Cup semi-final at Hampden.

“I haven’t played there but I have been there once, many years ago.

“It was for a cardiac scan we had to do, like a fitness test.

“I was at Falkirk and it was quite a long drive through but everything was OK. It was good to be in the stadium.

“I thought it was a nice place and it will be nice to be out on the grass this time.

“Saturday will be amazing.”

Doohan pushing Deniz as Siegrist continues injury rehab

Despite the arrival of Ross Doohan on an emergency loan from Celtic, Deniz has managed to keep the gloves and looks set to be Mellon’s No 1 for the rest of the season with Siegrist sidelined.

With a hard week ahead in training before the Hibs showdown, though, Deniz knows former Ayr United and Ross County goalie Doohan will be pushing him all the way.

“There has been no conversation,” he said when asked if he’s Mellon’s No 1 now.

“Ross has come in and done well. We get on fine and are good with each other.

“He supports me and I am on to him in training. It’s a good little groups that we have among the goalies, definitely.”

Dundee United goalkeepers Deniz Mehmet (right) and Benjamin Siegrist celebrate at full-time after their 3-0 Scottish Cup win at Aberdeen.

An injury to fellow-keeper Siegrist wasn’t the way Deniz wanted to get back between the sticks and he wishes the Swiss stopper well in his ongoing recovery.

Deniz added: “It was disappointing for Ben and it is not a nice way to get back in and start playing again but it is what it is.

“I just have to do the best I can.

“Ben has had a very good season and it has been difficult to try to budge him out.

“I’ve had to keep myself physically and mentally ready at all times in case anything happens and it was a freak incident that, unfortunately, happened to Ben.

“I hope he gets back to fitness as quickly as he can for his sake.”

Nothing will faze United’s back-up keeper

Filling in for such a big game won’t faze Deniz, though.

In his role as a back-up, nothing is unexpected.

Despite his playing second fiddle to Siegrist for the majority of the campaign, Deniz knew he had to be ready, both physically and mentally.

“I need to make sure I am doing the right stuff on and off the pitch,” he said of his role in the team.

“I do the extras that need to be done. I have run after pretty much every game this season.

“I had been keeping up my fitness and trying to stay strong, physically and mentally, so when I did get chucked in I can help the boys to the best of my abilities.

Dundee United analysis: Ross County get it right against road-weary Tangerines unable to stop eyes wandering towards Hampden humdinger

“You are there supporting all the boys and you want them to do well.

“Every game you want the boys to go out there and win but it is hard when you are training and working hard, day in and day out.

“Even in the game when you are doing well then you hope you might get a run but it doesn’t happen – that is the hard part of it.”

It is a lot of sacrifice but winning the Scottish Cup would make it all worthwhile for Deniz, right?

“I hope so, but let’s get there first.”

It was Hampden heartache in 2015 but Calum Butcher is determined things will be different this time as Dundee United set sights on Scottish Cup Final

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