Albelda and Canizares shocked at Koeman purge

December 20, 2007

VALENCIA, Spain, Dec 20 (Reuters) - Valencia's David Albelda and Santiago Canizares said they were shocked and disappointed at coach Ronald Koeman's decision to axe them from the first team and drum them out of the club.

'I'm devastated because this was the last thing I expected after all I have achieved at this club,' Valencia captain Albelda told a news conference on Thursday.

'They haven't explained why they have done this. Koeman just said he didn't have any faith in my leadership on or off the pitch and I responded that after 20 days in charge of the team he didn't know me well enough.

'He has no idea the sort of effort it took for me to get here.'

Koeman, who took charge of the team at the start of last month, decided to exclude Spain midfielder Albelda, goalkeeper Canizares and winger Miguel Angel Angulo from the first team for the rest of the season following a recent run of poor results.

Valencia have been knocked out of the Champions League and dropped from fourth to seventh place in the Primera Liga since the Dutchman took over.

Koeman gave no reason for his decision other than the fact that tough decisions needed to be made to get the club back on track.

Albelda, former Spain keeper Canizares and Angulo are three of the club's most influential, experienced and successful players.

All three were part of the side that won the league title in 2002 and did the league and UEFA Cup double two years later when Rafa Benitez was in charge.

The 38-year-old Canizares has been with Valencia since 1998, Albelda, who is 30 and has won 50 caps, graduated from the youth system as did Angulo.

Albelda said he felt betrayed by club president Juan Soler and his board.

'The directors at this club have no class or status to humiliate me like this. I have received no explanation from the president or anyone in his circle. I am leaving with my head held high and my conscience clear.'

Canizares said he was mulling over whether or not to retire after the club's decision to show him the door after almost a decade's service.

'I haven't decided what to do next. The other day I was 99 percent sure I would retire at Valencia and it is probable that Valencia will be the last shirt I wear.