Villa cancel Alpay's contract

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Turkish defender Alpay's contract with Aston Villa has been cancelled by mutual consent and with immediate effect.

Chairman Doug Ellis told the club's official website: "In 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.

"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."

The Turkish player was involved in a much-publicised bust-up with England skipper David Beckham earlier this month during England's 0-0 draw in Istanbul.

Alpay missed last weekend's Premiership derby against Birmingham City after being given time off by Villa boss David O'Leary over concerns at the reception he might get from both sets of fans, but had showed up for training on Tuesday.

He had earned the tag as the most unpopular player in England for riling Beckham after the Real Madrid midfielder's penalty miss and again on the way into the changing rooms at half time of the Istanbul qualifier.

Alpay told Sky Sports: "I'm really sad because I am leaving my team-mates, and they have been really supportive. But we came to an agreement to end my contract.

"I have strong interest from five other clubs - but I will wait to make a decision until next week."

Looking back to this month's Euro 2004 qualifier against England, he insisted he has no reason to regret his part in the controversy.

"This wouldn't have happened if the confrontation had been with any other player than David Beckham," he added.

"The time and effort the English media give to David Beckham is unfair. It is injustice to the other players in the England team.

"The other players work harder than he does. I wanted to leave Aston Villa anyway. I am happy that we have resolved the situation."