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!


2015 Season Preview (April Edition)

A few weeks back now, I previewed the leagues which featured Englishmen which started in March. Well now it’s time for a preview of the leagues which start this month…

Finland: Veikkausliiga & Kakkonen
Opening match: 12th April & 24th April
This year, there are two Englishmen flying the flag in the Veikkausliiga (Finland’s top tier) and three in the Kakkonen (the country’s third tier). The nation’s second tier, the Ykkonen, begins next month.

Former Southampton youngster Josh Mulvany will be featuring in Finland’s premier division for the first time after his KTP side won promotion from the second tier last year after finishing as runners-up. When KTP travel to Lahti for the opening game of the season, Mulvany will complete a hat-trick of featuring in all of Finland’s top three tiers. Now in his fourth season in the country, the 26-year-old began his Scandanavian adventure with Kakkonen side Ekenäs IF in 2012, before moving to KTP where he played two seasons in the Ykkonen.

Elsewhere in the top division, former Fulham and Bristol Rovers midfielder Wayne Brown will be starting his fourth consecutive season in the country’s top tier as he prepares to represent SJK. Brown, who has seen league appearances limited in recent season, will be hoping his performances in the League Cup so far this year will earn him a starting spot in the first game of the season away to Inter Turku. The 26-year-old also has Europa League action to look forward to after SJK finished second last season.

The third division begins in three weeks time. The Kakkonen is split into four regional divisions, with the top team in each division entering the promotion play-offs, from which two teams can be promoted.

Squad lists have yet to be announced for the third tier but there is a strong possibility there could be several Englishmen plying their trade in the competition.

Norway: 1. Division
Opening match: 6th April
Norway’s top tier, the Eliteserien, also starts next Monday but only the second tier, 1. Division, features an Englishman. Netan Sansara will be starting his second season with Fredrikstad next week and it will be his first as captain, having been announced as the club’s skipper recently. The 25-year-old defender featured for Walsall in England before featuring for Cypriot side PAEEK and Danish side FC Vestsjælland and finally moving to Norway.

Last season, Fredrikstad reached the promotion play-offs but were knocked out at the semi-final stage. Sansara contributed three goals in 15 games from defence and will be hoping he can lead his team a stage further this year and gain promotion.

Sweden: AllsvenskanSuperettan & Division 1
Opening match: 4th April, 3rd April & 11th April
All three of Sweden’s top tiers are set to feature Englishmen this year. The top tier, the Allsvenskan, begins this weekend and will feature three expatriates. One of those is legendary Brit abroad Kenny Pavey, who has played in Sweden since 1998. One of the few Englishmen to have successful carved an entire career abroad, the left winger/wingback will be featuring for AIK again this year.

At the opposite end of the scale though are Lloyd Saxton and Hakeem Araba, who will both be undertaking their first seasons in Sweden with GIF Sundsvall and Falkenberg respectively. Goalkeeper Saxton moves to the country have previously played in his homeland for Bradford City, whilst forward Araba attempts to settle in a new country once again after spells in Cyprus and Greece.

There are three more ex-pats in second tier. 22-year-old Jamie Hopcutt will be hoping to match his tally of nine goals from last season as he features for Östersunds FK, where he’s joined by former Bolton defender James Sinclair, who secured a move from Ljungskile. Finally, Kieron Cadogan will begin his first full season at GAIS, having joined partway through last season from Barnet.

The country’s third tier is split into north and south divisions, with the top team in each earning promotion plus an additional promotion spot up for grabs between the two second place teams. There are currently five Englishmen registered to feature in Division 1, which starts a week after the other two tiers. They included former Forest Green Rovers defender James Baldwin, who has dropped down a tier to join IFK Luleå from Östersunds FK and ex-Northampton Town midfielder Ryan Gilligan, who begins his fifth season in Sweden with new club Umeå.

USA: North American Soccer League (NASL)
Opening match: 5th April
Following the start of the other professional domestic leagues, the MLS and USL, the NASL begins this weekend along with its two English players.

26-year-old midfielder Mark Anderson will be starting his fourth season in the States but at a new side. After three seasons with the Fort Lauderdale Strikers, who he guided to the Championship Final last year, Anderson will be featuring for the Carolina RailHawks this season.

Elsewhere, 25-year-old Paul Black will be competing in his first ever season in the States. The defender joins the Atlanta Silverbacks after seven seasons in the English game with Oldham Athletic, Tranmere Rovers, Carlise United and most recently, Cheltenham Town.

There are also some divisions which begin in May. There will be a preview for them too.