Those words were reported in September, and unsurprisingly drew a lot of criticism for the defender who represented Los Blancos for 10 years before joining Besiktas in the summer. He has now backtracked - but only a little.
"People did not understand what I wanted to say in an interview I did with UEFA," Pepe told BeINSPORTS Turkey, with translation from ESPN FC's Dermot Corrigan. "In Spain they killed me for saying the Madrid fans were not good. I didn't want to say that, I wanted to say they were different, fans here experience the game in a completely different way."
The 34-year-old is enjoying his time in Istanbul. The squad reads like a "Where are they now?" article - Pepe counts Ryan Babel, Alvaro Negredo, Ricardo Quaresma, Jeremain Lens, Gary Medel, and Adriano as teammates - but is currently mounting a title challenge on current Super Lig leader and local rival Galatasaray, and is on the brink of securing an early route from Champions League Group G.
But that on-pitch success is possibly trumped by the atmosphere in Besiktas' Vodafone Arena.
"When I get home after games, and go to bed, I can still hear the noise," the Brazilian-born Portuguese international said. "You have to experience it to know what it's like, and I am thankful to be here."