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Page last updated at 15:39 GMT, Monday, 7 July 2008 16:39 UK

Kewell defends Galatasaray move

Harry Kewell
Kewell played more than 200 games for Leeds

Harry Kewell has defended his transfer to Turkish side Galatasaray despite receiving fierce criticism from some Leeds fans for the move.

Kewell was playing for the Elland Road club when two supporters were killed before a UEFA Cup semi-final against Galatasaray in Istanbul in April 2000.

But in an open letter to Leeds fans he insisted he has not been disrespectful.

"My love and respect for Leeds United and what the club has done for me will never change," he said.

"My sense of sorrow and sympathy for the families and friends of Christopher Loftus and Kevin Speight will always be with me.

"I chose the number 19 shirt when I signed for Galatasaray as a sign of respect for Leeds because that was the number I got when I first became a regular member of the Leeds starting XI.

"To blame the Galatasaray club for the tragedy in Istanbul is simply wrong and discriminatory."

Harry Kewell
"I felt that it might be a way to demonstrate that I had not forgotten where it all started and I was hoping that, in a small way, it would help the healing process of the tragedy."

Kewell, who joined Galatasaray on a free transfer from Liverpool earlier this month, added that Leeds fans are wrong to blame the Istanbul club for what happened.

"For me, sport should first and foremost be about the love of your game. But equally important is the respect for not only your team-mates but all those who you compete against.

"For this reason I have always objected to any form of discrimination in any sport and football in particular, as that is the sport that is the most near and dear to me.

"To blame the Galatasaray club for the tragedy in Istanbul is simply wrong and discriminatory."

see also
Liverpool sign Kewell
09 Jul 03 |  Liverpool

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