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!