Alex unveils problems in Fener’s locker room

Alex unveils problems in Fener’s locker room

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Alex unveils problems in Fener’s locker room

Alex de Souza revealed his problems with coach Aykut Kocaman and chairman Aziz Yıldırım which led to the abrupt ending of his eight-year career at Fenerbahçe. The two-hour press conference was the Brazilian’s final public appearance in Turkey. AA photo

Alex de Souza cited poor relationships with Fenerbahçe Coach Aykut Kocaman and Chairman Aziz Yıldırım, as the Brazilian superstar made his final public appearance before leaving Turkey.

The Brazilian captain, who asked for the termination of his contract after being left out of Fenerbahçe’s senior squad, laid bare all the events that led to the end of his eight-year career at the club. The 35-year-old, who has been the most prolific player in the last decade of Turkish football, opened the two-hour press conference by thanking all the fans who have shown their support for him throughout the last week.

“The support I saw from the crowd that gathered outside my door on Monday [Oct. 1], or at my kids’ school, was overwhelming... I could not even have dreamed of such great support,” Alex said. “I never cried in my childhood as I have this last week.”

Alex de Souza scored 172 goals in 340 games during his eight years at Fenerbahçe, but he had had some public problems with Kocaman recently, and yesterday the Brazilian superstar did not hide his problems with the coach. Alex said his first problems with Kocaman dated back to 2009, when he was first appointed as the team’s manager, with German Christoph Daum as coach.

First discussions

He said the team was given time off until July 7, 2009 under coach Luis Aragones, but Kocaman changed the dates after he came to the helm. Alex said Daum did not make a big problem about his joining the club later, but Kocaman told him off.

“That was the date that was set in the first place,” he said. “I told him that I would always speak up whenever I don’t share his opinions.”

Alex said that the problems grew when Kocaman was named the head coach after Daum was sacked. He said that he and Kocaman had different football mentalities regarding tactical strategies and training regimes. But the real fallout came in the off-season.

“While I was on holiday after a difficult season, I learned that Kocaman had told reporters that I would not be used in every match, and that he would speak to me about it,” the player said. “But that speech never happened. After the Vaslui game [in the Champions League preliminaries], I went to Kocaman and said ‘What about me?’ and he spoke about his plans [to continue] without me. I have had many arguments in my 18 years as a professional footballer, but that one was the most serious. I think that was the talk that ended it all.”

Alex also said he regretted having sent some recent tweets, including the one in which he used the word “jealousy” to explain why he was left out of the starting 11. Alex was left out of the first team squad following the team’s 2-0 defeat to Kasımpaşa on Sept. 29. Yesterday, he claimed that Kocaman came to him and said “there cannot be two leaders in the dressing room” and he “should be left out since Alex is such a big character in the team.”

Unlike Kocaman, Alex’s relationship with chairman Aziz Yıldırım had its ups and downs.

“I have great respect for him, even though we have our ups and downs, because he was always open to me,” he said. Alex said that Yıldırım wanted to send him off the team in 2010, but he then went on to score 28 goals and helped the team win the title “after trust in him was restored.”

“The chairman had told me that Kocaman, me and him would have a meeting on Sept. 7 [about Alex’s future at the club], but that never happened,” he said.

Meanwhile, Samet Güzel, Alex’s longtime translator at Fener, also resigned from the club. “I remember Samet first as a Fenerbahçe fan who wanted an autograph,” Alex said. “He has been through so much in the last week. I thank him for his support.”

Alex also thanked all the fans. “I have had good relationships with almost everyone during my eight years in Turkey,” Alex said. “I have seen support not only from Fenerbahçe fans, but from supporters of Galatasaray, Beşiktaş, Trabzonspor, Bursaspor, Eskişehir, Gaziantepspor, Sivas, Kasımpaşa... Everyone supported me. I thank them all.”