500 Not Out: Congratulations Adam
Brighton & Hove Albion would like to congratulate former defender and academy product Adam El-Abd on reaching 500 professional appearances on Tuesday evening. The 34-year-old marked the milestone with a 2-1 victory for current club Wycombe Wanderers over Accrington Stanley in Sky Bet League One, more than 15 years after making his senior debut for the Seagulls. El-Abd joined Albion’s academy as a nine-year-old in 1994, before earning a scholarship on the south coast and eventually signing his first professional contract at the age of 19. The defender’s debut came against Notts County at Meadow Lane in November 2003, and it proved to be the first of more than 300 matches for the Seagulls across the second and third tiers of English football. The Seagulls secured two promotions in that period of time, with El-Abd winning the Player of the Season award for Albion’s 2010/11 title-winning season, which was also the club’s last at the Withdean Stadium. Injury delayed El-Abd from making his first appearance at the Amex Stadium, but the defender’s wait came to an end in November 2011 and it turned out to a be a memorable match for different reasons. El-Abd played the full 90 minutes against Burnley, but spent 78 minutes of the match defending with nine players on the pitch, following red cards to both Romain Vincelot and Ashley Barnes inside the opening 12 minutes. Speaking in a programme interview from the Leicester City match, El-Abd said, “We spent the majority of the game defending and it took a brilliant free kick from Kieran Trippier to win the match 1-0. “I remember Macca [Craig Mackail-Smith] having a great chance in the closing stages, one you would have banked on him scoring, but it wasn't to be. Despite losing the game, it was a special day for me.” The defender reached 300 league appearances for the Seagulls as a late substitute against Birmingham City in 2014, and it proved to be his last game for the football club. El-Abd added, “Oscar Garcia came in as manager and I just wasn’t playing as much as I wanted and needed to. It was a really tough decision for me because I’d been with the football club since I was nine years of age, but I felt like I needed to make the decision for my future career. “Looking back now, it was probably the wrong decision to leave the club, but I was keen to progress at the time and Bristol City made a good offer. “I’m 34 now and closing in on 500 senior games — so looking at my career as a whole, I have to be pleased with what I’ve achieved and thankful to Brighton for everything they did for me.” Loan spells at Bury, Swindon Town and Gillingham followed, during a difficult period with the Robins, but El-Abd moved on in 2016 when he signed for Shrewsbury Town. El-Abd played 34 times for the Shrews during the 2016/17 campaign, but signed for Wycombe at the end of the season and helped the Chairboys win promotion to Sky Bet League One. Wearing the captain’s armband at Adams Park, El-Abd has become an integral part of Gareth Ainsworth’s team and continues to lead the Buckinghamshire club as they go in search of back-to-back promotions. Purchase the matchday programme from Saturday's match against Leicester City to read the full interview with El-Abd - click here to view all programmes from the current season.