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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||?zmir, Turkey|
|Height||1.88 m (6 ft 2 in)|
|Playing position(s)||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 90 international games for Turkey between 1995 and 2005, making him Turkey's seventh-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.
Özalan began his career at Altay. His performances caught the eyes of the biggest teams in Turkey.
In 1993, Özalan signed for one of the Turkish giants Be?ikta?. Özalan set a record in the Süper Lig, earning three red cards in the space of six months. He played 148 matches for Be?ikta?, 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, Özalan 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. His partnership with Olof Mellberg as central-defensive partners was cut short as Özalan 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 Özalan's downfall at Villa Park. Media reports and comments made by Taylor led to Özalan becoming a very unpopular figure at the club, missing much of the 2002-03 season. Their goalkeeper, Peter Schmeichel, defended Özalan 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.
Özalan 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 Özalan went on to score the first goal of that game. In consequence to his earlier booing, Özalan'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 Özalan 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 Özalan. 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. He became a South Korean citizen while he was playing there.
Özalan spent less than six months with the team before moving to the J1 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.
In 2005, Özalan 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 Be?ikta? were interested in signing him. Özalan stayed with the club, stating that his decision was influenced by his family's happiness in Germany.
Özalan made 87 appearances for the Turkish national team, netting four times. Three of those goals were a hat-trick against Macedonia during the 2002 FIFA World Cup qualifier. He was one of the best players for his country in the 2002 FIFA World Cup, where the team reached an unprecedented third place in the tournament. Özalan also featured for Turkey in Euro 1996, Euro 2000 and the 2003 FIFA Confederations Cup. A very memorable moment in Özalan'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 Vlaovi? to dribble the ball half the field without fouling him to stop the attack. In consequence, Vlaovi? scored the single goal of the game and Turkey lost. Özalan 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. Özalan was involved in a brawl at the end of the game and was awarded a six-match ban by FIFA.
He got elected on 24 June 2018 for the Grand National Assembly of Turkey running for the Justice and Development Party (AKP).
|Turkey national team|
|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