Former Brighton & Hove Albion goalkeeper Michel Kuipers says Saturday’s Emirates FA Cup semi-final with Manchester City at Wembley Stadium is another chance for the club to showcase themselves to the world.
The ex Seagulls stopper was the hero when Albion faced this weekend’s opponents at the Withdean Stadium in the Carling Cup 11 years ago – and he believes the game against the Citizens this time around is another chance to put the football club positively in the limelight.
He said, “I’m not sure how the game will go – but when we beat them 11 years ago I did a lot of media after the game, both national and international.
“The one thing I kept saying was that it was a great opportunity for me to showcase the club’s journey and the new stadium that was on the way – I was able to tell the people and the media how much the club needed it.
“It was such a great opportunity to let everyone know again that the club needed the new ground and how important it was for the whole community.
“Saturday is another chance to be able to put the club in a fantastic spotlight and show all the fantastic things that are happening.”
A goal from Glenn Murray in normal time and another in extra time courtesy of Joe Anyinsah sent the tie to spot-kicks, as the Seagulls triumphed 5-3 in the shootout thanks to Kuipers saving from Michael Ball to allow Matthew Richards to fire the hosts to a memorable victory.
“It’s a game which you can only look back on fondly, it’s very much one you look back on and think ‘wow’ – because we beat one of the richest clubs in the world at the time,” Kuipers continued.
“Whenever I speak to people and discuss my time with the club, people always mention that match – it’s one of the most special games at the Withdean Stadium.”
“It was a bit of a rollercoaster of emotions on the night, I thought the team played really well as a whole – to take that team we were facing to extra time was a very good achievement.
“It was a high-tempo game too from what I can remember, with both sides trying to win it in normal time.
“The four goals show that – before the shootout I felt confident we had a chance, but if you look at their players and the qualities they have and the opposition goalkeeper being Kasper Schmeichel, then you knew it wasn’t going to be easy.”
Kuipers made over 250 appearances for the Seagulls during a ten-year spell on the south coast.
The goalkeeper reflected on the dramatic win against Millwall in the previous round of the competition last month, and he believes the determination shown in that contest will stand the side in good stead ahead of Saturday.
“This weekend’s game should be a fantastic occasion for everyone at the football club and something that’s really great, but it goes without saying it won’t be easy.
“It will be a game where the playing field is closer than it was in 2008, that means Brighton have a really good chance to progress to the final.
“The circumstances of the Millwall game do make you think this could be the year, it really highlighted the team’s spirit and character to come back from two goals down in the way which they did.
“There was a real determination to be successful, and that mentality should stand the team in good stead this weekend.”