Alpay Fehmi Özalan (born 29 May 1973 in İzmir) is a Turkish football player.
A young Alpay walked 20 km to participate in the trials of Turkish team Altay SK
and eventually made it to the first team. His time at Altay was successful from an individual perspective. He was an indispensable member of the Turkish under 21's side, and his performances caught the eyes of the biggest teams in Turkey.
In 1993, Alpay signed for Turkish giants Besiktas JK
. Alpay was recognised as a very physical defender, with a passion to win. This passion would often boil over, even at young age. Alpay set a record in the Turkcell Super League
, earning 3 red cards in the space of 6 months. With controversy aside, there was no doubt he could play football. He played 148 matches for Besiktas, netting 9 times. He was once the winner of Turkish League and twice, the Turkish Cup
. After 6 years at Besiktas, a new deal could not be negotiated.
His contact was initially bought by Siirt Jetpaspor
. Before even playing a match for them, Alpay was loaned to Besiktas' city rivals, Fenerbahce SK
. This burnt the hearts of every Besiktas fan. This was evident in Alpay's first Fenerbahce derby against Besiktas, at the Inonu Stadium
. For the duration of 90 minutes, the Besiktas fans taunted Alpay, and his wife. Alpay would later retaliate at the Sukru Saracoglu stadium
. After Fenerbahce scored, Alpay ran into the goal in front of the Besiktas fans, and celebrated wildly. In his sole season at Fenerbahce, he played 26 matches, and found the net 3 times.
After his eye catching performances at Euro 2000, Alpay signed for English club Aston Villa FC
, after his initial deal with Greek club Olympiakos CFP
fell through. Alpay enjoyed a good first season with Aston Villa, becoming a fan favourite, and establishing a solid partnership with Swedish International, Olof Mellberg
. His next season was cut short, due to an ankle injury, which ruled him out for the remainder of the season. With the FIFA World Cup around the corner, English doctors could not speed his recovery, so Alpay opted the services of Turkish doctors. Ironically, Alpay was healed after just 2 weeks, and just in time for the 2002 FIFA World Cup
. Alpay was outstanding for the Turkish National Team, finishing in 3rd place and being elected in the All-Star Team of the tournament. After the tournament, Alpay caught the interest of Real Madrid
, FC Barcelona
. Alpay no longer desired to stay at Villa, stating the poor treatment of his injury as the cause. Aston Villa manager Graham Taylor
refused to sell him, seeing him as part of his future plans. A contract could not be negotiated between Aston Villa and Alpay. Media reports stated that Alpay wanted a 50% wage increase, which was heavily denied by the Turkish international. However, the reports led to Alpay becoming a very unpopular figure at the club, missing much of the 2002-03 season under Graham Taylor. Alpay returned to the Villa team for the beginning of the 2003/04 season. In Villa's first home game, he was booed when walking on to the pitch by his own fans. Alpay scored the first goal of that game. In consequence to his earlier booing, Alpay's goal celebration served to mock the Villa fans by placing his finger on his mouth. He was again dropped due to the angry reaction of the Villa fans. Alpay then made a name for himself during the UEFA European Football Championship
2004 qualifier with England, clashing with England captain David Beckham
. After the match, Alpay's contract was terminated by immediate effect, which led to his exile. It was thought that he would never again represent the Turkish national side.
SV Werder Bremen
, SV Hamburg
, Borussia Monchengladbach
, Hertha Berlin
wanted to sign the fiery Turk. However, the European transfer window was closed, and Alpay did not want to wait 6 months to play football again. He travelled to 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 Diamonds, he was awarded foreign player of the year. The following season with the club proved to be a catastrophe. Alpay averaged a booking every 40 minutes, receiving 8 yellow and 3 red cards. The Japanese club annulled his contract due these disciplinary problems. Alpay insisted that these cards were given due to his poor reputation.
On 1 August 2005, Alpay signed a one-year-contract with the German Bundesliga
team 1. FC Köln
. This transfer insured his place back into the national team, and once again, the Turkish community started to appreciate his talents once again. Turkey failed to make the 2006 FIFA World Cup, after losing to Switzerland in a play-off. Turkish media blamed Alpay for the defeat, after giving away an early penalty in the return leg in Istanbul. During the Summer Transfer window of the 2006/2007 season, Manchester City F.C.
, Portsmouth F.C.
, Celtic F.C.
, Galatasaray S.K.
and Beşiktaş J.K.
were interested in signing this forgotten talent, but Alpay remained loyal to FC Köln, stating that his decision was influenced by his family's happiness in Germany. FC Koln have since been relegated, but the controversies are still surrounding Alpay. Alpay is currently not in the squad, after a dispute with manager Christoph Daum
. It is likely he will never play again for the German club. His contract expired at the end of the 2007/2008 season.
Alpay made 98 appearances for the Turkish national team, netting 4 times. 3 of those goals was a hat-trick against Macedonia during the 2002 FIFA World Cup qualifier. Alpay featured for Turkey in Euro 96, Euro 2000, FIFA World Cup 2002, and the FIFA Confederations Cup
Alpay is a tall, tough tackling defender, who is more often used as a man marker. He is a superb organiser, and very dominant in the air. Although he is a highly skilled defender, his football ability is overshadowed by his controversial antics, which have led to him being hated by masses both in Turkey and abroad.
- Alpay's contrast to fame was during the Euro 96 group stage match, between Turkey and Croatia. With the contest tied at 0-0 towards the end of the match, Croatia hit Turkey on the counter-attack. Alpay let Croatian Goran Vlaovic run half the length of the pitch to score the decisive goal. Alpay was awarded a fair play award by FIFA for his actions.
- Turkey's defeat to Portugal in the quarter-finals of Euro 2000 was blamed on Alpay's 29th minute dismissal, after striking Fernando Couto.
- Alpay was involved in a punch up with team mate, Juan Pablo Angel during his time at Aston Villa. This was labelled in the press as 'Lewis vs Tyson.'
- After David Beckham missed a penalty in the Euro 2004 qualifier in Istanbul, Alpay goaded the English star. When half-time arrived, Alpay then poked a finger in Beckham's face, which instigated a brawl between the Turkish and English parties. Alpay remains a hated figure in England as a result.
- Violence occurred after the FIFA World Cup 2006 qualifying match between Turkey and Switzerland. TV footage shows Alpay leading the pack into the tunnel and lashing a kick at Marco Streller. During the FIFA hearing, Swiss player Raphael Wicky, claimed Alpay had punched him in the face (forehead) at the end of the tunnel. Also during this hearing, Nick Golüke, a reporter employed by a Bavarian station, stated that he had seen Alpay Ozalan hit players with his hand and fist as the players came out of the tunnel. He also stated that it had been reminiscent of a “pub brawl”, but that the Swiss players had been the victims and had not instigated the incidents. FIFA accepted these claims and awarded Alpay a six match ban for Turkey's competitive games.
- A week later in the Bundesliga, Alpay elbowed Hamburg SV defender Guy Demel, for which he received a 4 match ban.
Alpay is currently married, and has 2 children. He is said to be a family man, with a great heart. This is surprising to most people, who see Alpay on the football pitch, often getting fiery and very physical. Former England International Gareth Southgate
insists Alpay has a different, more attractive, side to his "dirty tricks" public persona. "After we beat Turkey at Sunderland, he was the first Turkish player down the tunnel and he hugged me. That's the Alpay I remember from my time at Villa." Alpay has often said his personality changes once he enters the football pitch. He was quoted once saying, "I play with all my heart, not to earn wages or think about what is going to happen after the match. I always walk on to the pitch to win, and I will do anything in my power to ensure victory for my team. For that to happen, I will be tough, I will play dirty."
||rowspan="2"|Urawa Red Diamonds
||rowspan="2"|J. League Division 1