Villa agree to release Alpay

Turkey defender Alpay Özalan and Aston Villa FC have reached a mutual agreement to end the player's contract.

Strong criticism
The 30-year-old centre back was heavily criticised by sections of the English media and some Villa fans after his confrontation with England captain David Beckham during the countries' decisive UEFA EURO 2004™ qualifier in Istanbul on 11 October.

'Life had grown difficult'
"In the light of recent events, it would have been difficult for Alpay to represent Aston Villa again in the future and the player himself was aware that life in England had become increasingly difficult for him and his family," Villa chairman Doug Ellis told the club's official website. "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."

Appearances restricted
Alpay joined Villa from Fenerbahçe SK in summer 2000 and went on to make 58 league appearances for the Birmingham club. However, he played only five times in 2002/03 after falling out with previous manager, Graham Taylor, but had made six appearances this term under new boss David O'Leary.