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BUCKLEY: I’LL NEVER FORGET THAT SPECIAL DAY

24 May 2019

Paul Hazlewood
Will Buckley wheels away in celebration after netting the winning goal against Doncaster Rovers.

Former Brighton & Hove Albion winger Will Buckley wrote his name in Albion folklore with his debut double against Doncaster Rovers in 2011, and we caught up with the 29-year-old to reminisce about that special day at the Amex Stadium.

After moving to the south coast for a club-record transfer fee from Watford, Buckley began Albion’s opening game at their brand new stadium on the bench, but his 75th-minute introduction was just the start of a dramatic turnaround.

Billy Sharp’s goal put Doncaster ahead after 39 minutes, but just eight minutes into Buckley’s debut, the winger drilled home Albion’s first league goal at their new home to level.

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What followed was a moment of elation, as Buckley raced onto Craig Noone’s through-ball, before opening his body to find the back of the net and seal victory for the Seagulls in the eighth minute of stoppage time.

He said, “Whenever I bump into Brighton fans now, it’s the first thing they mention and it’s really nice to be a part of the club’s history in that way.

“Obviously it was great to score the equaliser, but then to get the winner so deep into injury-time was just unbelievable.

“At the time it didn’t really sink in what I’d done because I was just caught up in the emotion of the game, but the fans were talking about it for weeks, months even, and it’s then that I realised just how important those goals were.

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“The fans had worked so hard to get the stadium over the years and it would have taken a bit of shine off the occasion if we’d lost, so it was great to have helped us get the win.

“I’ll never forget the emotion in the stadium that afternoon, especially when the final whistle blew.”

Buckley went on to make more than 100 appearances for the club before departing for Sunderland in the Premier League, and he continued to speak about some of his other long-lasting memories from his time in Sussex.

“Scoring goals at the Amex was always an unbelievable feeling,” he added. “Getting to the play-offs in two of my three seasons was also a great achievement – it was just a shame we couldn’t get over the line.

“As far as games are concerned, I’ll always remember the final day of the season at Nottingham Forest, where Leo Ulloa’s last-gasp header clinched our place in play-offs.

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“The celebrations at the end, with the players and fans, it was just crazy and still makes me smile when I think of it.

“Leo was a brilliant striker, a real threat whenever he played, and Macca [Craig Mackail-Smith] was also a top player. Ashley Barnes has proved with Burnley what a good player he is and we're still good mates.

“We also had the Spanish lads who made a real impact, the likes of Bruno and Vicente. It was a great group of players and I loved every minute.”

Buckley made his fond feelings towards Albion very clear, as he concluded with some nice words about the supporters and the club’s progress since his departure in 2014.

“It was just a brilliant time in my career. It was a fantastic environment to play football in, the city was buzzing and there was just a real positive vibe around the club which I’m sure still exists to this day.

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“I enjoyed every minute of it, made some great friends – players I still keep in contact with to this day – and I had a good relationship with the fans.

“What I loved about the Albion fans is that they really stuck with the team, through good and bad, and there was a real desire from them to make the most of being in the Championship and being in the new stadium.

“I’m delighted that they’ve now got the opportunity to see Premier League football and delighted it’s going so well for the club.”


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