ISTANBUL- Hürriyet Daily News
The statue of Alex de Souza, which is entirely funded by Fenerbahçe fans, serves as a reminder that football supporters can pay tribute to their heroes in timely manner.
Çetin Cem Yılmaz
Last weekend saw the unveiling of a statue of Fenerbahçe
captain Alex de Souza in Kadıköy, on the Asian side of Istanbul.
The statue was funded by Fenerbahçe
fans, a rare gesture of paying tribute to a footballer while he is still active, or alive. It could be easily seen that the man himself, speaking at the ceremony, was sometimes lost for words, even shedding tears.
The gesture meant much more than just a tribute to a footballing hero though, especially in a febrile football atmosphere like Turkey’s.
Perhaps the unveiling came at slightly the wrong time, as Alex has recently been experiencing his worst days ever at Fenerbahçe. He has spent nine years at the club - more than any other non-Turkish player. Having scored 136 goals in 241 games, enjoying three league titles and a historic quarterfinal run in the Champions League, Alex has had a glorious nine year period in Istanbul. However, the last two months have been unusually frustrating. After being left out of the squad by coach Aykut Kocaman early in the season, Alex responded to the manager’s decision on Twitter and - maybe involuntarily - also opened up a rift between Fenerbahçe
fans, with pro-Aykut or pro-Alex sides forming. Now, Alex looks closer than ever to leaving the club in mid-season.
However, that is perhaps the best timing. Alex may be living his final months at the club, but for fans to take the opportunity to show their respect is all the more meaningful at a time like this. In a country that is obsessed with results, and in a football scene that puts winning above anything else, Fener fans showed that paying tribute to a hero is in fact possible.
Sometimes, it can be too late. Local rivals Galatasaray
never had the chance to give Metin Kurt the credit he deserved when the winger, who rose to cult status by rebelling for his rights in the 1970s, was alive. Kurt was not included in the “Galatasaray remembers its legends” series, which honored players before the team’s home games over the last two years. On Sept. 2, Galatasaray
“remembered” Kurt before its home game against Bursaspor, nine days after his death.
Clubs can be errant or hasty, but fans should know better. That is why the Alex statue should show the way to fans of all clubs.