Exclusive interview with Chania’s Jordan Sanderson

Jordan Sanderson and Chania

The beautiful thing about football is that it can take you all over the world.

Jordan Sanderson and Chania

In an exclusive for English Players Abroad, Chania (A.O. Xania) midfielder Jordan Sanderson talks about life in his first season playing football in Greece.

Sanderson started his career at Colchester United and after making a couple of appearances for their first team in League One, and a loan spell at Chelmsford City, he left to join National League South side Ebbsfleet United.

After a year with Ebbsfleet, including a couple of loan spells at Lewes and Grays Athletic, the 22-year-old joined Chania in the second tier of Greek football last year.

This season has been a challenging one for Chania, with several managerial changes affecting their side’s performances on the pitch. The season started with Thomas Grafas in charge, before he was replaced by Georgios Lyronis in November. Gefas then returned in March and Chania’s form has picked up significantly.

The club has also played against top Greek Super League sides PAOK and Olympiacos in the cup this season and also drew with Super League side Panthrakikos in the same competition.

With four games remaining in the season, Sanderson talks to EPA exclusively about his ambitions for the future and how a familiar face helped him settle in his new surroundings.

English Players Abroad: After playing for a few clubs in England, how did the move to Chania come about?
Jordan Sanderson: The move to Chania came about after I had been on a series of unsuccessful trails with English clubs during pre season. The English season had started and I was without a club. My agent gave me a call and said Leroy Lita is over in Greece, we are with the same agency, their season hasn’t started [yet] and they are still in pre season, would you like to go over for a trial. I went and they liked what they saw so I signed.

EPA: Leroy Lita played alongside you at Chania for a while, did that help you settle in?
JS: I hadn’t met Leroy prior to coming to Greece [but] obviously I had heard of him given the career he has had. He was a massive help to me during his time here, almost like a big brother, and I learnt a lot from him both on and off the pitch.

EPA: How have you found adjusting to life in Greece?
JS: The main thing for me was to adjust to the weather. When people come to hot countries like Greece, it’s usually for a vacation and to relax so training in 30° of heat was very different to me but after the first month or so, I was fine. Life off the field wasn’t so hard to adjust to [as] I’m a very laid back person so the lifestyle of the people here suited me.

EPA: How does the standard of football in Greece’s second tier compare to what you were used to in England?
JS: The standard of football here compared to England is different. The tempo of the game in England is faster and more physical so I didn’t face any real problems adjusting to the game here.


Highlights from Chania’s 6-2 loss to Super League side PAOK in the group stage of the Greek Cup. Sanderson was involved in the build-up for Chania’s first goal, which gave his side the lead. Leroy Lita scored Chania’s second goal.


EPA: How would you describe your style of play?
JS: I see myself as a ball player. I like the ball and the technical aspect of my game is something I pride myself on. Since being in Greece, I have developed a different aspect to my game. I feel defensively my game has improved a lot and that’s massive for me because I know I can play with the ball so to be able to come here and develop that side of my game has really helped me.

EPA: With the Greek football season coming to an end, how would you describe Chania’s season?
JS: The season for us has been filled with ups and downs. We started well. We were in a good position coming into December [and] I think if we had turned some draws into wins, we would have been in a very good place. The change of management unsettled things more than they should have and consequently we paid for it. Not winning a game for five months was mentally draining for all the players. Even when we were playing well and creating chances, we couldn’t finish games and teams were punishing us for it. We [then] saw another change of management with the first manager being reinstated. Now we find ourselves fighting for survival with four games left to play but winning our last two games has boosted the morale of the team, and hopefully we can fight until the end and survive.

EPA: From your experiences, would you encourage more Englishmen to play their football abroad?
JS: If you have the opportunity, go for it. You never know what may come from it at the end.

EPA: What are your ambitions for the future? Are there any other countries you would like to play in?
JS: My main priority at the moment is to make sure the team are safe and what ever happens after that happens. The beautiful thing about football is that it can take you all over the world. I’d be open to play in many countries if I felt it was the right thing to do for my career at the time.

EPA: Finally, who is the best player you have ever played with or against?
JS: I’ve never played with or against any big named world class players but [I have played with] a lot of very good players, so it’s a hard one for me, but I’d have to give it to my Portuguese team-mate at Chania, Hugo Machado. The guy is a magician at the age of 33 and also a great guy off the field. [He is] always playing jokes, so yes, it’s been a pleasure to play alongside him.

You can follow Jordan on Twitter here.

Exclusive interview with Loyola Meralco Sparks’ Adam Mitter

I would 100% recommend it [playing abroad] to any British footballer who wants to play more whilst they are younger.

Adam Mitter

In an exclusive for English Players Abroad, I catch-up with 23-year-old defender Adam Mitter, who currently plays his football in the Philippines for Loyola Meralco Sparks.

The former Blackpool youth player is well travelled despite his age, having featured for clubs in Sweden and Australia before the move to Asia.

A ball-playing defender, equally as comfortable as a defensive midfielder, Mitter is of a similar philosophy as Everton and England’s John Stones.

Often the source of many of Loyola’s attacks, his composed play at the heart of their defence creates chances for his own side, whilst denying opportunities for the opposition.

Having started his professional career with Blackpool, Mitter featured for Hibernian before moving to Ange in Sweden and then to West Torrens Birkalla in Australia. He joined Loyola in 2015.

In this exclusive Q&A, the 23-year-old talks about adjusting to life in the Philippines as well playing alongside two of the country’s biggest stars.

English Players Abroad: First of all, moving to the Philippines could be seen as an unusual move for an English footballer, how did the transfer come about?
Adam Mitter: To be honest, when the interest came from the Philippines I didn’t know anything about the place what so ever. The manager here, Simon McMenemy, is Scottish [and] he was in contact with my agent so when he found out I was free he contacted me. We had lengthy discussions and it just went from there really.

EPA: How does the standard in the Philippines compare to the football you’ve played in other countries?
AM: The top four or five teams here are very good. They play very good football and are full of top quality players, Stephan Schröck from the Bundesliga. Martin Steuble from MLS is also playing here. We also have some very good Spanish players playing here.

I think it shows by how well the two Filipino teams, Kaya and Ceres, are doing in the AFC Cup (Asia’s equivalent to the Europa League) this year. They are both nearing the top of their groups and playing big sides from top Asian countries, such as Malaysia, and getting results. That shows the quality that is here.

EPA: Can you tell us a bit about the time you have spent playing in Australia and Sweden?
AM: Sweden was brilliant for me. It was my first time moving abroad. I was young 19 in fact, but I went to the right type of club (Ange IF). It wasn’t the top tier of Swedish football but it was right at the time. It allowed me to learn and develop as a footballer. I was made captain of the club and held some sort of responsibility at a young age, that helped me to grow to this day. We won the league and got promoted and it was a fantastic year all round. I played under a great manager who helped me with a lot of things, we still keep in contact to this day.

Australia was also a great experience, but a very different one. The style of football was very different from my Blackpool and Swedish days when everything was technical and tactical. Australia was more of a battle, more things in the air. It was a bit like when I was playing in Scotland with Hibs, it’s more physical. It was great to go out there and experience living out there and playing football out there toughened me up, if nothing else.


Highlights of Mitter’s 2015 season with Loyola


 

EPA: How much has it helped having a Scottish manager in charge of Loyola during your time at the club?

AM: Simon has been brilliant for me. Before coming out here he went into great detail about the place; told me the pluses and told me the negatives. He was very honest, and I can’t thank him enough. I’ve loved this experience so much, and it’s mainly down to him. He understands the British mentally. It is [very] different to a Filipino mentality when on the football pitch, so it’s hard for him to try and get a good balance with the British lads when we get a hot head, but we find a way. With his experience and where he has managed previously, he has great knowledge. He’s an excellent manager.

EPA: How have you adjusted to the culture whilst living in the Philippines and how important is football to the locals?
AM: I’ve been lucky with the culture. I live in an area which is very ‘westernised’. Sometimes it feels like living at home except the weather. There are a lot of British people around, everyone speaks English. But it’s not like this in every area of the Philippines so you always have to be mindful.

EPA: What is it like playing alongside James and Phil Younghusband, two of the Philippines’s most famous personalities?
AM: It’s great to have Phil and James in the team with LMS, they both are so humble and down to earth. Two of the nicest guys I have ever come across in football, they would help anyone. For people who have so much in this country, you would never realise. They really are two of the nicest guys.

Loyola line-up
Mitter (top row, second from the right) before a Loyola match

EPA: With the UFL season first approaching, what are your ambitions for the upcoming season?
AM: Let’s not get things mistaken, recently we have massively under achieved. When I first arrived here we won the first cup competition, the PFF Smart National Cup. That set the standards but since then we have fallen short. We finished second in the league last year and were beaten by a very strong Ceres side 1-0 in the semi final of the UFL Cup. This season has started with another disappointment, with being knocked out in the elimination rounds of the UFL Cup. But make no mistake about it, We will come back so much stronger in the league and be pushing to become champions. Meralco deserve that, and expect that.

EPA: Would you encourage more Englishmen to play their football overseas?
AM: 100%. So many English players get stuck playing in the lower leagues in England or semi professional leagues in England, not earning great amounts of money and not getting any life experiences. When, if they look abroad, they can develop their game in a different country playing full time, experiencing things you could only dream of.

I wouldn’t change a thing I have done so far. I’m 23 now and I’ve played so much football and have a great amount of experience. Playing centre-back in England it’s hard to get game time at such a young age, not many managers put there trust in young CB’s. I wasn’t prepared to sit on the bench and watch games, I’m a winner, winners don’t settle for that – that’s why I came abroad. I’ve won things. I’ve played so many games. I’ve improved and matured. I’m now ready to see just how high I can go. I would 100% recommend it to any British footballer who wants to play more whilst they are younger.

EPA: Finally, in your opinion, who is the best player you have ever played with or against?
AM: The best player? Well, getting to train with Blackpool’s first team whilst they where in the Premier league, I have seen some fantastic footballers but honestly, Phil [Younghusband] is right up there. The things he can do on a football pitch is incredible. He could easily go back to England and play at a high level. He has the ability to change a game in a second. I don’t think he realises just how good he is, he’s definitely one of, if not, the best player I have played with.

You can follow Adam on Twitter, @adammitter5

Exclusive interview with Charlotte Independence’s Jack Metcalf

College soccer was all about winning, especially in the ACC conference [where] the fans make the games “real”.

Photo from http://www.crowntownsoccer.com/

In an exclusive for English Players Abroad, Jack Metcalf of USL side Charlotte Independence talks about the move to America and what it’s been like playing in the Independence’s inaugural season.

Metcalf began his career closer to home with Liverpool before joining Wolverhampton Wanderers. After leaving the Midlands club at the age of 18, he accepted the chance to study across the Atlantic, joining Clemson University.

After four years of combining study with college soccer, the 23-year-old signed for newly formed third-tier American side Charlotte Independence.

Equally comfortable at fullback or in midfield, Metcalf has just completed his first season with the Independence, with his side narrowly missing out on the USL post-season playoffs.

Here’s what he had to say about life in the US.

English Players Abroad: How did the move to study in America come about? Did you have any other options to stay and play in England?
Jack Metcalf: After I was released by Wolverhampton Wanderers in May 2010, I had several options to go and join lower league clubs in England but something about moving away from home with the guarantee of four years of football really excited me and when I spoke to the staff at Clemson University I understood that it was the perfect place for me to develop as a player.

Photo from http://www.clemsontigers.com/

EPA: What were your initial impressions of US college soccer? Was it easy to balance studying and playing?
JM: My first impressions of college soccer was that it was very, very different. First of all, playing for Liverpool and Wolves reserves and youth teams was a very high standard but it was all development based and not at all about results. College soccer was all about winning, especially in the ACC conference [where] the fans make the games “real”. Trying to balance full time playing and studying was very challenging, but you are provided with more that enough help to be successful at Clemson University.

EPA: After graduating and returning to England, did you always have it in mind that you could return to the States to play professionally one day?
JM: Yes. I returned from the States to start my professional career in England but after a couple of months it was clear to me that I had better opportunities to play and [to] gain experience in the United States. A couple opportunities came to me in the USL and NASL but Charlotte was the team that gave me the most interest and excitement.

EPA: 2015 was Charlotte Independence’s inaugural season, how do you think this year has gone for you and the club?
JM: As a club we had a lot to overcome in our first year as we bounced around home stadiums and had a tough start to the season. But as a team and organization we came back from those disadvantages and had many positives to take from our first season; [we were the] only team to beat Rochester Rhinos, the furthest USL team in the US Open Cup and had a 12 game unbeaten streak, finishing just 1 point outside of the playoffs.

EPA: There are several other Englishmen who play in the USL, have you had the chance to meet many of them?
JM: I’ve had a chance to speak to a couple guys like (Charlie) Adams from Louisville City and also had a good tussle late in the game with (Rob) Vincent from Pittsburgh!

EPA: Tell us a bit about your style of play? Would you compare yourself to any Premier League player?
JM: I’d say I was more of a technical player than a physical presence but I have a good engine and I’m not afraid to put myself about when I can. I wouldn’t say I have a similar style to any Premier League player but my idol was always Steven Gerrard growing up. Two other plays I have great respect for are David Beckham and Gianluca Zambrotta.

EPA: Who is the best player you have ever played with or against?
JM: I’d have to say the best player I have ever played with was (current Crystal Palace defender) Martin Kelly during my time at Liverpool in the youth team. The best player I have ever played against is Samir Nasri in a Premier League Reserve game for Wolves vs Arsenal.

EPA: Finally, what are your ambitions for the future? Would you like to play in any other countries?
JM: I have goals to play at the highest level, be that in the USA in the MLS, England or anywhere in the world. I have a re-occurring dream of me walking [onto the pitch] at Anfield whether that be with the home or the away dressing room but hopefully one day I can make that happen.

You can follow Jack here on @JackPezMet.

Exclusive interview with KTP’s Josh Mulvany

We had him [Nathan Dyer] on one wing and Theo Walcott on the other…it was a pretty dangerous team.

In an exclusive for English Players Abroad (EPA), Finland-based midfielder Josh Mulvany discusses promotion to the country’s top tier and what it was really like at the famed Southampton academy.

Heading into his fourth season in Finland, Mulvany will be competing in the Veikkausliiga (for a preview on this year’s Veikkausliiga, click here), the nation’s premier division, for the first time after earning promotion with his side KTP last season.

Having begun his career at Southampton’s youth academy, the box-to-box midfielder had spells with Wycombe Wanderers and Oxford United moving to the US to play college football.

After four years in the States, Mulvany has been plying his trade in Finland ever since, first for Ekenäs IF and now for KTP.

Last season, the 26-year-old was named KTP’s player of the year as he contributed six goals and eight assists in all competitions.

English Players Abroad: How much do you think your footballing upbringing at Southampton has helped you so far?
Josh Mulvany: I think the Southampton football academy is really key to my football ability. It’s where I learnt to play the game. They really installed a possession based, passing and moving game into us. Everything we did was technical. The players we were training and competing with day in day out made it a very competitive environment, which helped bring us all on.

EPA: After a spell in the States, how did the move to Finland come about?
JM: I was in the States for four years and after I’d finished playing, I graduated college. My coach at the time Ian Collings had spoke to me about staying in the professional game. A friend of his (Mike Keeney) was coaching in Finland and wanted to have a look at me. I wanted to keep on playing so I jumped at the opportunity.

EPA: Have you found it easy to settle in since the move to Finland? Has it helped having English coach Steve Polack at KTP?
JM: Living and playing in Finland is obviously a lot different than playing in England. But the people are really nice and welcoming. Everyone speaks English so it hasn’t been very hard to adapt. It’s always nice to have a fellow Englishman in and around the team to talk about stuff going on back home and have a joke with.

EPA: How would you compare Finnish football to the standard you have played in England?
JM: The thing I like most about Finnish football is they tend to keep the ball on the ground. It’s about a possession based game, where people play out from the back. In England teams in the Premier League, the Championship and then a handful of teams play this style of football as you go down the leagues. It doesn’t suit me to be battling for second balls and putting the ball in the corner, so I much prefer the style here.

EPA: Last year was a very successful year for you and KTP, how much are you looking forward to playing in the Veikkausliiga this year?
JM: Last year was a good year for us and I hope we can build on that this year. I’m extremely excited to play in the Veikkausliiga. I’m looking forward to playing at the higher level.

EPA: How much of a step-up are you expecting this year to be now you’re in the top tier?
JM: I think it will be an all round more competitive league than the Ykkonen. But I’m very excited for the challenge.

EPA: Who is the best player you have ever played with or against?
JM: The best player I’ve ever played with would be Nathan Dyer, he could take players on at will. He was a great outlet for us during my Southampton days. We had him on one wing and Theo Walcott on the other…it was a pretty dangerous team.

EPA: Finally, what are your future ambitions? Are there any of countries you want to play in?
JM: I want to try and play at the highest level I can. I want to concentrate on doing well this year and see where that takes me. My Mrs. is from the US so I’m sure she would like me to find a club there!

Exclusive interview with Hawke’s Bay United’s Ryan Tinsley

In an exclusive for English Players Abroad (EPA), Nottingham-born midfielder Ryan Tinsley talks life down under as the New Zealand Premiership heads towards its finale.

At 20-years-old, Tinsley’s career has only just began but he is already a key player for both his teams, Hawke’s Bay United and Napier City Rovers.

Football in New Zealand operates with two league systems. The first, the ASB Premiership, is the national league of the country and runs from November to March. The second is a regional system, featuring four leagues which run between April and August. Tinsley’s sides, Hawke’s Bay and Napier City, feature in the ASB Premiership and Central Premier League respectively.

English midfielder Tinsley first joined Napier City in the regional leagues in 2014 and suitably impressed to join national side Hawke’s Bay for the 2014/15 season.

His goal-scoring exploits from midfield have made him a firm fan favourite at both clubs. EPA caught up with Ryan to see how he had settled into life on the other side of the world.

English Players Abroad: After spells with Leicester City and Nottingham Forest in England, how did the move to New Zealand come about?
Ryan Tinsley: My spell at Forest [ended when] I got released aged 18. I then went on to play for the Nike Academy and after my spell there I went to play semi-professionally for a couple of teams. While playing, I got a couple of emails of interest to play in Sweden and New Zealand. I needed a new challenge and focus after being released from Forest following playing for a top academy and team where a few of my team-mates have gone on to play for Forest and sign for other clubs. I was contacted by Bill Robertson, the player-coach of Napier [City Rovers] and things developed from there, hence my move out here.

EPA: Has it been easy to settle into your new surroundings since the move to New Zealand?
RT: In the first 6 months, I struggled to be fair, because I am a massive family person and I especially miss my younger brother Macauley! I never for one second let this affect my football in any way though. It’s been tough but I felt I needed to get away and have a new experience and here I am, the furthest possible place away from home. Now I’m used to the whole thing about being away from home and I feel settled in and I have met great new friends and a beautiful girlfriend.

EPA: How does the standard vary between the level you play at with Hawke’s Bay United and Napier City Rovers?
RT: There isn’t that much of a difference, it’s just that Hawke’s Bay United are national whereas Napier are just central based. So all Hawke’s Bay games we will fly as New Zealand Football put a lot more money and commitment into the national league. A lot of the players play in both the leagues also.

EPA: What is the biggest difference you have noticed between playing football in England and in New Zealand?
RT: Well it’s a lot hotter, I can tell you that for sure! It took a good couple of weeks getting used to the heat and getting rid of jet lag. I feel personally, in England, the games are a lot more physical. As for New Zealand, there are some very good players. I guess that’s why you see more and more UK players come to New Zealand to play football.

EPA: There are numerous Englishmen playing in New Zealand, why do think so many English players are attracted to the country?
RT: I believe it’s because New Zealand football is becoming a better standard year by year. You just have to look at Auckland City. They have just finished 3rd in the World Club Cup. What an achievement that is for New Zealand [football].

EPA: You’re having a pretty successful 2014-15 season with Hawke’s Bay United, on both an individual and team basis, how do you feel the season has gone so far?
RT: For my debut season in the National League, I believe it is going rather well. We are currently in the play-offs in 3rd position and I am joint third-top goalscorer in the league with 7 goals from midfield. I feel fitter than I ever have. Since being in New Zealand I’ve had to become a lot more mature as a player because with having a professional background, coaches expect me to stand out and be a leader – they say age means nothing. As for my Napier City Rovers season, I was second-top goalscorer in the league with 14 goals and won the golden boot for my team from centre midfield.

EPA: Who is the best player you have ever played with or against in your career so far?
RT: The best player I’ve played with would have to be Lewis McGugan or Patrick Bamford when I was at Forest. The best player I’ve played against would be Lucas Piazon.

EPA: Finally, what are your future ambitions? Are there any others countries that you hope to play in?
RT:  am still only 20-years-old still so hopefully I can still get back into the professional game again, and [then] get to the highest level I possibly can. I am young, fitter than ever and still believe in my talent and that this [playing professionally] can still be achieved – maybe in England, where I believe I am capable of playing in the English divisions. It’s all about luck. Being spotted at the right time and, of course, being good at the sport I love helps a lot. Maybe [I will stay] in New Zealand [and get up to] as high level as I can go or even in other countries. We will just have to see what the future holds.

Exclusive interview with Warriors FC’s Thomas Beattie

In an exclusive for English Players Abroad, the Yorkshire-born midfielder Thomas Beattie talks winning the S. League title and playing against Owen Hargreaves.

The 28-year-old plays in Singapore for Warriors FC and has just begun his third consecutive season in Asia.

You can read more about Beattie in a post I made earlier this year.

English Players Abroad: You’ve been in Singapore for a couple of years now, how did the move to Asia come about?
Thomas Beattie: An old team mate of mine knew a coach at Home United and they were looking for new foreign signings, so recommended me. They saw my footage and paid for me to come over and train with them. Eventually I signed with Hougang, though.

EPA: How have you settled in since the move to Singapore? Has it been easy to adjust to the culture?
TB: I have travelled a lot via football so I’m used to being in foreign places and Singapore is fairly easy to adjust to in terms of lifestyle as there are many expats here who are always willing to help. The country is small, so very convenient in terms of travel. Having English coaches, friends and team mates helped me settle initially also.

EPA: You played in Canada before moving to Asia, what is the biggest difference between playing football abroad as opposed to in England?
TB: I played in Canada as I was waiting for visa approval to return to America and play but it was taking a long time and had friends across the border there so ended up going there in the process and stayed. In England, the game is a lot more physical and I think in general players are more ‘football savvy’ – knowing how to win games. There are very good players technically in Asia. They style of play in Asia is different but even amongst south East Asian countries the style differs also. You just have to adjust.

EPA: Your side Warriors FC had a good 2014 season, winning the league. How did it feel to the lift the trophy at the end of the year?
TB: It wasn’t as easy as it seems. We had, and still have a small squad, and the depth was a problem for us, but we were very close unit and worked very hard all year. It was rewarding to win the league knowing we had the odds stacked against us but over came lots of obstacles to get there. I think people only see the game sometimes and think that’s all we do, but if you knew the time, effort and energy we put in everyday at training to get there, it would surprise a few people. It was very satisfying to lift the trophy.

EPA: How much has it helped having a fellow Englishman as your coach?
TB: It is a big help having an English coach here as he understands the difference in culture and everything about where I’m from and so if I’m having frustrations or problems with things or need advice, he is there to help and having the same background means his perspective is usually the same. He showed faith in me to bring me from Hougang to Warriors so I try and work hard for, not only him, but to repay the faith he showed in me.

EPA: There are several foreign players in the Warriors side, what is the team chemistry like?
TB: The chemistry is very good among the team. The most important thing is integrating with the local players. After all, we are guests in their country and have to respect the difference in culture and upbringing – not only in football. If not, it can cause a big split in the team. Luckily, Warriors is a club that has a good bunch on local and foreign players and everyone makes an effort.

EPA: Former Blackburn Rovers manager Steve Kean is in charge of fellow S. League side DPMM FC. Have you ever had the chance to meet him?
TB: I actually didn’t play Brunei last year! We played them [but] I missed the game at home through injury when I had surgery to fix a fractured skull and eye socket I received in a game. And then, the next meeting I was suspended! So hopefully this year I will be available.

EPA: How would you describe your own style of play?
TB: Well in Asia I’m looked at as a big player so my style of play here is little different. I like to get on the ball from deep and get things moving, be creative and also be a protective player for the back four when we lose possession.

EPA: Who is the best player you have ever played with or against?
TB: Best player I played against would maybe be Owen Hargreaves, his engine never stops! And played with, I would say my team mate Nico Velez. He has a long exciting career ahead of him, I think. Some of the things he does in games and training make people look like it’s their first day on the job.

Exclusive interview with Ayia Napa’s Michael Felgate

It is always nice to mix with different nationalities and the team chemistry is by far the best I have [ever] witnessed

In an exclusive for English Players Abroad, expatriate defender Michael Felgate talks Cypriot football and his ambitions to become an international player.

The 23-year-old plays for Cyprus top division side Ayia Napa. More renowned for its tourist resorts, Ayia Napa are in their first season back in the top tier having won the second division last season. The English defender has two Division 2 medals in his trophy cabinet, having also won the title in 2012.

Felgate is now in his fifth season with the island side, having joined from fellow Cypriot side Enosis Neon Paralimni.

He has been a regular starter this season so far, having made nine starts at the time of writing.

EPA: Have you always lived in Cyprus or have you lived in England as well? If so, did you play football for any clubs in England?
MF: I lived in England and [then] at a young age, I moved to Cyprus but I did not play for any clubs there [in England].

EPA: What is the standard of football like in Cyprus’ 1. Division?
MF: I rate the standard of Cyprus division high, [especially] if you think what APOEL has achieved in the past few years [in the Champions League].[Although], I haven’t played in any other leagues so I cannot be the best judge.

EPA: I’ve noticed there are a few other Englishmen playing in Cyprus. Have you ever played against any?
MF: I have played against Corrin Brooks-Meade, who currently plays for Nea Salamis. We were previously teammates at Alki Larnaca.

EPA: There’s quite a mix of nationalities in the Ayia Napa side. What is the team chemistry like?
MF: It is always nice to mix with different nationalities and the team chemistry is by far the best I have [ever] witnessed in my years in football, which is very important for the team to be successful.

EPA: How would you describe your season so far?
MF: We didn’t start off too well but we are getting better and hopefully we can start picking up more points.

EPA:  Who is the best player you have ever played with or against?
MF: In an official match, I would have to say (Cyprus international and current FC Sion player) [Demetris] Christofi was one of the hardest players to mark due to his pace.

EPA: What are your future ambitions? Are there any other countries you would like to play in during your career?
MF: My future ambition is to get into the Cyprus national team. As for moving, I wouldn’t mind playing in a different country as it would be a good life experience – but it’s not always easy.