Western United has announced the departure of experienced defender Ersan Gulum.

Gulum, 32, will return to Turkey after playing a significant role in setting the standard at the A-League’s newest club.

“Ersan’s contribution to our club and playing group has been immense,” United chief executive officer Chris Pehlivanis said.

“We wish Ersan and his family the very best and he will always be welcome back into the Green and Black family.”

Gulum was a key part of Western United’s defence in the first half of the season.

The former Turkish international was a defensive mainstay and offered drive from the back.

United coach Mark Rudan said Gulum’s value can also be measured by what he provided the team away from the field.

“Ersan is a leader and has helped drive the group forward in our first season,” Rudan said.

“He bought into the culture of our club and has been a great example to all the boys.

“He’s a class act on and off the pitch.

“Ersan’s professionalism and upbeat character was a positive throughout his time with our club.

“He leaves with our best wishes and Ersan will always be welcome back at our club.”

Western United has opted for a more youthful defence.

Alongside veteran Andrew Durante in the win over Central Coast Mariners on Sunday was Jonathan Aspropotamitis and debutant Oskar Dillon, who slotted into Gulum’s position on the left.

Gulum will leave with great memories of his time at Western United and knowing he played a role in setting the culture from day one.

“The boys have been first class, I want to thank all of them,” he said.

“And I’d like to especially thank Mark Rudan for giving me this chance.

“Thank you to all the coaching and off-field staff at Western United, they’ve been amazing.

“I’m sad to go but I know the club will continue to grow and I’ll always remain a supporter of the Green and Black.”