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Alpay during a training session with 1. FC Köln from 2006.
|Full name||Fehmi Alpay Özalan|
|Date of birth||29 May 1973|
|Place of birth||İzmir, Turkey|
|Height||1.88 m (6 ft 2 in)|
|Playing position||Centre back|
|2004–2005||Urawa Red Diamonds||13||(0)|
|2005–2007||1. FC Köln||48||(1)|
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.
He played 87 international games for Turkey between 1995 and 2005, making him Turkey's sixth-most capped player of all time. This included performances at two European Championships and the 2002 World Cup, in which he was selected for the Team of the Tournament.
Alpay began his career at Altay. His performances caught the eyes of the biggest teams in Turkey.
In 1993, Alpay signed for one of the Turkish giants Beşiktaş. Alpay set a record in the Süper Lig, earning three red cards in the space of six months. He played 148 matches for Beşiktaş, netting nine times. After six years at the club, a new deal could not be negotiated. His contact was initially bought by Siirt Jetpaspor, and he was then loaned to Fenerbahçe. In his sole season at Fenerbahçe, he played 26 matches, and found the net three times.
After superlative performances for his country at Euro 2000, Alpay signed for English club Aston Villa. He enjoyed a good first season with Villa and he became a fan favourite. His abilities caught the interest of Arsenal and Newcastle United. With the arrival of Olof Mellberg, the duo became one of the most talented central-defensive partners in Europe. The partnership was cut short as Alpay injured his ankle which sidelined him for the remainder of the season. He recovered just in time for the 2002 World Cup, in which he formed the core of an obstinate Turkish defensive unit. They finished third and he was elected into the team of the tournament.
The biggest clubs in Europe took note of his performances in the Far East, including the likes of FC Barcelona and Internazionale. Aston Villa manager Graham Taylor refused to sell him, which was the beginning of Alpay's downfall at Villa Park. Media reports and comments made by Taylor led to Alpay becoming a very unpopular figure at the club, missing much of the 2002–03 season. Their goalkeeper, Peter Schmeichel, defended Alpay in his article in the English newspaper, The Times.
|“||What happened after the World Cup, when he was frozen out by Graham Taylor, was sad. There are a lot of politics at Villa, and the way Alpay was portrayed as a money-grabber was nothing like the guy that I know. Taylor is just not keen on players with a bigger profile than himself.||”|
Alpay returned to the Aston Villa team for the beginning of the 2003–04 season. In his first home game against Charlton Athletic, he was booed when walking on to the pitch by his own fans. However Alpay went on to score the first goal of that game. In consequence to his earlier booing, Alpay's goal celebration served to mock the Aston Villa fans by placing his finger on his mouth. He was again dropped due to their angry reaction. The Turkish defender was then made public enemy number one in England in late 2003 after a run-in with David Beckham during the Euro 2004 qualifier in Istanbul. He first confronted the England skipper after his first-half penalty miss, glowering over him and rubbing heads with him in full view of the referee. He followed that up by prodding a finger into Beckham's face as the players came off the pitch at half-time, sparking a tunnel brawl. Due to the angry reactions in England, his contract was terminated by Aston Villa on 23 October. Club chairman Doug Ellis declared:
|“||In light of recent events, it would have been difficult for Alpay to represent Aston Villa again and the player himself was aware that life in England had become increasingly difficult for him and his family. Therefore, both parties agreed that the best course of action was for the immediate termination of his contract which was due to expire in June 2004.||”|
Werder Bremen, Hamburg, Borussia Mönchengladbach, Hertha Berlin, and Bologna wanted to sign Alpay. However, the European transfer window was closed and he did not want to wait to play football again. He opted for a move to South Korean K-League side Incheon United's first foray into professional football in 2004.
Urawa Red Diamonds
Alpay spent less than six months with the team before moving to the J. League with Urawa Red Diamonds. In his first season with the club, he was honoured with the best defender of the year award. The following season with the club proved to be a catastrophe. Alpay received three red cards in seven matches. The Japanese club annulled his contract due to these disciplinary problems.
1. FC Köln
In 2005, Alpay signed a one-year-contract with the German Bundesliga team 1. FC Köln. This transfer ensured his place back into the national team. They were relegated, and Manchester City, Portsmouth, Celtic, Galatasaray and Beşiktaş were interested in signing him. Alpay remained loyal to the club, stating that his decision was influenced by his family's happiness in Germany. After continuous controversies, he was left out of the squad infinitely until his contract expired at the end of the 2007–08 season.
Alpay made 87 appearances for the Turkish national team, netting four times. Three of those goals was a hat-trick against Macedonia during the 2002 FIFA World Cup qualifier. Alpay featured for Turkey in Euro 1996, Euro 2000, 2002 FIFA World Cup, and the 2003 FIFA Confederations Cup. A very memorable moment in Alpay's career in complete contrast to his general fame was during Euro 1996 in the game between Croatia and Turkey. In a counterattack, he allowed Croatian Goran Vlaović to dribble the ball half the field without fouling him to stop the attack. In consequence, Vlaović scored the single goal of the game and Turkey lost. Alpay was awarded with a fair-play award due to his action. On 24 June 2000, he was sent off during the first half of the Euro 2000 quarter-final against Portugal, which his country lost by a score of 2–0. His final match was against Switzerland in the 2006 FIFA World Cup second leg play-off tie in Istanbul, conceding a second-minute penalty by handball, converted by Alexander Frei which resulted in Turkey's elimination despite a 4–2 victory. Alpay was involved in a brawl at the end of the game and was awarded a six-match ban by FIFA.
International career statistics
|Turkey national team|
- Results list Turkey's goal tally first.
|4 June 1995||Toronto||Canada||1 goal||3–1||Friendly match|
|6 June 2001||Bursa||Macedonia||3 goals||3–3||2002 FIFA World Cup qualification|
- Urawa Red Diamonds
- Emperor's Cup: 2005
- "Teknik Direktörümüz Alpay Özalan" (in Turkish). eskisehirspor.org.tr. 23 June 2016. Retrieved 23 June 2016.
- "Defender Alpay may leave Villa". Hurriyet. 7 June 2001. Retrieved 24 February 2012.
- "Inter keep tabs on Alpay". Sky Sports. 2002.
- Cakir, Ugur (2002). "Alpay hints at new club on Monday". Sky Sports. Retrieved 24 February 2012.
- "Basturk is the class act for a nation with point to prove at the Stadium of Light". London: The Times Online. 30 March 2003.
- "Villa edge past Charlton". BBC. 20 September 2003. Retrieved 24 October 2009.
- "Round-up: Villa release Alpay". London: The Daily Telegraph. 23 October 2004.
- Buckingham, Mark (2003). "Alpay due for Bologna talks". Sky Sports.
- "Turkey 4-2 Switzerland". BBC Sport. 16 November 2005. Retrieved 25 May 2015.
- "Sanctions for incidents during Turkey v. Switzerland pronounced final". FIFA. 6 September 2006. Archived from the original on 6 September 2006. Retrieved 9 November 2013.
- Mamrud, Roberto (11 December 2005). "Özalan Fehmi Alpay - International Appearances". RSSSF. Retrieved 24 February 2012.