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MAENPAA EAGER TO PLAY AFTER AMAZING ALBION EXPERIENCE

21 June 2018

Paul Hazlewood
Niki Maenpaa in action against Barnet.

Departing Brighton & Hove Albion goalkeeper Niki Maenpaa says his time at the club has been an amazing experience, but stressed a desire to play regular football as the key factor behind his decision to move on.

Maenpaa’s time with the Seagulls will come to an end when his contract expires on 30th June, and the 33-year-old reflected on his three seasons at the Amex Stadium, which included promotion to the Premier League.

He said, “I hoped it would have gone a little bit differently and I would have played more games, but overall it’s been three amazing years here.

“The first season we nearly got promoted, the second season we got promoted, and then last season we stayed in the Premier League - it’s been an amazing experience to be part of what we’ve achieved as a team.

“Personally, I have to go because I want to play games and I couldn't see it happening at Brighton - but that’s football.

“I’m still really ambitious and hungry to play games. I feel good physically and mentally, and I just have to make this step now and look for something else.

“I’m really pleased that the club wanted me to stay here but at the moment, for my career, the best thing for me is to move on.”

The shot-stopper kept six clean sheets across his 11 appearances for Albion, and he commented on the close relationship he’s had with his fellow goalkeepers throughout his time on the south coast.

“When I arrived at the club there was [David] Stockdale, Casper [Ankergren] and also Christian [Walton]. It’s been a good unit since the very first day.

“Then obviously last season with Tim [Krul] and Maty [Ryan] - I’ve had a really good relationship with all of them. It’s been amazing to work with all of those goalkeepers and also with Ben [Roberts, Albion goalkeeping coach].

“Even though I haven't played many games here, I still feel like I’ve learned so much and grown as a goalkeeper.

“I’m very thankful to Ben and the other goalkeepers for that. We've made each other better goalkeepers throughout my time here.”



Maenpaa has seen the squad climb into the Premier League and stay there, and he highlighted Albion’s togetherness as an important factor behind the success.

“In all my time here we’ve had a really strong togetherness. It’s been really rare, considering the squad has been like this for all those three seasons.

“All the players get on with each other really well, and that was one of our biggest strengths. Everyone pushes each other and there’s healthy competition for every position.

“Everyone is focused on the same goal. Even though I didn’t play so much, I always felt part of the squad, and that’s very important.

“Also Chris [Hughton] and all the other coaches, they’ve done superb work and Brighton deserve to be where they are at the moment."

With Maenpaa now looking for a new club, the Finland international has expressed a desire to remain in England, and he also thanked the club’s supporters for their backing throughout his time on the south coast.


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