LONDON - Reuters
Australia midfielder Harry Kewell issued an open letter to Leeds United supporters yesterday in defense of his decision to join Turkcell Super League side Galatasaray.
The former Leeds player signed for Galatasaray on Friday after leaving Liverpool following an injury-plagued five-year stay at Anfield.
The 29-year-old was with Leeds when two of the English club's supporters, Christopher Loftus and Kevin Speight, were stabbed to death prior to a UEFA Cup semifinal against Galatasaray in Istanbul in April 2000.
Kewell's move has attracted fierce criticism from many Leeds supporters but the player said in a letter, released to Sky Sports, that he would always love the club he joined as a teenager in the mid-1990s.
"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 United FC starting XI," he wrote. "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 that occurred on the 5th of April 2000."