Pepe backtracks on comments appearing to criticise Real Madrid fans

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VALERY HACHE / AFP / Getty

Pepe attempted to clarify his comments that Real Madrid players needed to "motivate themselves" for matches due to the timid atmosphere at the Santiago Bernabeu.

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."

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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."