LONDON: Aston Villa’s Turkey defender Alpay insisted yesterday that England should not be concerned for their safety when they visit Istanbul for next week’s decisive Euro 2004 qualifier.
“You shouldn’t have any worries about English players being safe inside the stadium,” Alpay, who has offered to throw a party for England after the crunch match against Turkey, said.
“I am sure the Turkish people will show their hospitality to the English people. I’m sure they will get the hospitality they deserve.”
“Do you think we are going to come out on to the pitch next Saturday with machine guns and shoot the England team?” he added.
But when it came to the game itself Alpay suggested Turkey would come out on top.
“I can assure you that we are a better team than the English team,” he told the Daily Mail.
“We will make history if we beat England in Istanbul because we have never scored against England and we will qualify for the European Championship.
“We are confident we can do that.”
He was also fairly dismissive of England captain David Beckham.
“David Beckham is important for England but I don’t think we need to make any special plans for him.”
England go into their final group game with a one-point advantage over Turkey and will qualify if they avoid defeat on Oct 11.
English fans face a total blockade if they try to travel to Turkey, with exit checks on travellers heading to Turkey from Britain, as well as at Turkey’s borders.
n LONDON: Alex Ferguson is to let England boss Sven Goran Erikkson decide whether his Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand is fit enough to play in the key Euro 2004 qualifier against Turkey next week.
Ferguson normally insists on United’s medical staff playing a role in determining whether an Old Trafford player is fit enough for international duty.
But the United boss said: “Obviously the situation is a very important one for Rio because he will want to be fit for the England game. If he has a chance of being fit we will let him go. In the end it will be Sven’s decision.”
Ferdinand picked up a foot injury in United’s 2-1 Champions League defeat in Stuttgart on Wednesday. – AFP