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HAMMOND'S FOND ALBION MEMORIES

18 August 2017

Paul Hazlewood
Dean Hammond playing for Leicester's under-23s against Albion last season.

Former Brighton & Hove Albion midfielder Dean Hammond spoke fondly about his two periods at the club, ahead of Saturday’s meeting with Leicester City, who he now coaches for.

The 34-year-old has now turned his attentions to coaching, as he works with Leicester’s under-23 side, and he looked back on his first spell playing for the Seagulls, when he progressed through the youth ranks into the first team.

He said, “Mark McGhee had quite a successful period at Brighton. He got us promoted in 2004 and kept us up in the Championship the following year. He gave me my first opportunity of regular first-team Championship football in 2004/05 when we just avoided relegation.

“He was very good for me because when I came back from Aldershot and Leyton Orient, I was stuttering in my career. I was coming out of contract and he gave me an opportunity the following season.

“Some managers might have let me go. He obviously saw something in me and I proved his decision right. I have a lot to thank him for. He liked to play attacking football and he liked good footballing sides.”
 
Hammond made 139 appearances for the Seagulls between 2002 and 2008, and he commented on Albion’s former home - the Withdean Stadium - which saw four promotions in 12 seasons.

“Withdean got better over the years. To start with, it helped the club, as they made it into a bit of a fortress, getting two promotions in a row in 2001 and 2002.

“There was a running track around it. It was a stadium which got put up and taken down every season. I think the seats from one stand were used for the Open in golf.

“It was very different, but it led to Brighton now having a wonderful stadium and a wonderful training ground.”

The midfielder then returned to the south coast for a second spell at the club, as he joined on loan from Southampton, and he revealed his pleasure at being able to feature for the Seagulls at the Amex.

“Southampton had a lot of money and ambition at that time. I might not have been a regular player anymore and I wanted to play football.

“I jumped at the opportunity to go back to Brighton on loan, especially with Gus Poyet as manager.

“They were in the Championship and had a new stadium. I’d been shown the vision of that when I was 15 and had always wanted to play in it.”

You can read the rest of Hammond's interview by purchasing a copy of Leicester's matchday programme at the King Power Stadium tomorrow - with copies costing £3.50.



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