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.

English in action: 8th December

Michael Felgate

Cyprus: Ayia Napa 0-0 Ethnikos Achna (1. Division)
Two sides in the bottom half of Cyprus’ top division faced each other as Ayia Napa hosted Ethnikos Achna.

English defender Michael Felgate was in the starting line-up for the hosts, who were looking for their first win in four.

The points were shared in the end though, as Felgate played the full match as the game ended goalless.

English midfielder Krasniqi Kreshnic was an unused substitute for Ethnikos Achna.

Greece: Panathrakikos 0-0 Ergotelis (Super League)

Hakeem Araba after signing for Panthrakikos.

To the Greek Super League now, as another Englishman was involved in a goalless draw.

Two teams in the league’s bottom three took on each other but in the end, the result suited neither side as Panathrakikos and Ergotelis played out a stalemate.

English forward Hakeem Araba was an 85th minute substitute for the hosts. He was making his fifth sub appearance of the season since his summer move from Cypriot side AE Kouklion.

English in action: 29th November

In a busy Saturday, fifteen Englishmen made appearances for their overseas sides.

Belgium: Waasland-Beveren 2-1 Mouscron-Péruwelz (Pro League)
English midfielder Jonny Rowell played the full ninety minutes as his side Waasland-Beveren defeated Mouscron-Péruwelz 2-1 in the Belgian Pro League..

The result means Rowell’s side move up to 13th in the league table, one spot above compatriot Chuks Aneke’s side, Zulte-Waregem.

Belgium: OH Leuven 3-0 Racing Mechelen (Second Division)
Another English midfielder in Belgian also saw his side his side win. John Bostock played the full match as his Leuven team strolled to a comfortable 3-0 win over Racing Mechelen.

The result means Bostock’s side remain in sixth place in the Belgian Second Division.

Cyprus: Ayia Napa 1-1 Nea Salamis (1. Division)
Two English players lined up against each other in this Cyprus top tier match.

Defender Michael Felgate and goalkeeper Corrin Brooks-Meade started for Ayia Napa and Nea Salamis respectively.

In the end, the points were shared between the two expatriates as a goal in each half saw the game end 1-1.

Germany: Hallescher 2-1 Osnabruck (3. Liga)
English forward Osayamen Osawe came on for his 12th substitute appearance of the season as his side Hallescher shocked Osnabruck by winning 2-1.

Osawe came on in the 91st minute, as the hosts looked to see out the final moments of the game by bringing on the former Blackburn Rovers forward.

Germany: Carl Zeiss Jena 4-0 Auerbach (Regionalliga)
13th place Auerbach travelled to 4th place Carl Zeiss Jena with two Englishmen in their squad.

Defender Korede Aiyegbusi started for Auerbach with his compatriot midfielder Moses Makinde on the bench.

However, the match turned out to be one to forget for the two expatriates, as even though Makinde came on in the 69th minute, Auerbach fell to heavy 4-0 loss.

Francis Williams.

Germany: Rot-Weiß Oberhausen 3-1 Rödinghausen (Regionalliga)
Two Englishmen played against each other as Rhys Tyler‘s Rot-Weiß Oberhausen hosted Francis William‘s Rödinghausen in Germany’s fourth tier.

Tyler started the game on the bench but Williams started up top for the visitors.

The game turned out to be bitter-sweet experience for Williams as the forward scored his first goal of the season, in his twelfth appearance, but could not prevent his side from losing 3-1.

Tyler came on as an 88th minute substitute for the hosts, with his side already 3-1 up.

India: Pune City 1-1 Atlético de Kolkata (Indian Super League)
Jermaine Pennant made his fourth start for Pune City as they hosted Atlético de Kolkata in the Indian Super League.

The English winger was subbed in the 84th minute with the match at 1-1, and that was how it finished.

Malta: Tarxien Rainbows 0-6 Valletta (Premier League)

Lateef Elford-Alliyu grabbed a brace

Valletta made it two comfortable wins in a row, as they defeated Tarxien Rainbows 6-0. The result meant Valletta have now scored 11 goals and conceded none in their last two games.

Lateef Elford-Alliyu was on the score-sheet once again as he bagged his fourth & fifth league goals of the season when he scored Valletta’s third and fifth goals of the match.

Portugal: Belenenses 0-0 Arouca (Primeira Liga)
English goalkeeper Matt Jones started for Belenenses as they looked to move into the Primeira Liga’s top three with a win.

The three points didn’t come though as, although Jones did his job by keeping a clean sheet, his outfield team-mates did not manage to get a goal, as the game ended 0-0.

USA: New England Revolution 2-2 New York Red Bulls (MLS Playoffs)
Two Englishmen did start for New York Red Bulls in their MLS Eastern Conference Playoff final second-leg but all the talk was about the English striker that didn’t start.

MLS top-scorer Bradley Wright-Phillips missed New York’s biggest game of the season through suspension.

The two Englishmen who did start though were Richard Eckersley and Lloyd Sam. The pair played the full ninety as the game ended 2-2, meaning New England went through on aggregate after a 2-1 win in the first leg.

English in action: 22nd November

Top flight domestic football was back yesterday, as players returned from their international breaks. Nine Englishmen were involved yesterday.

Belgium: Club Brugge 4-2 Waasland-Beveren (Pro League)

English midfielder Jonny Rowell and his Waasland-Beveren team-mates faced the unenviable task of an away trip to top of the table Club Brugge.

Rowell played for Hartlepool United in England before making the move to Belgium in 2010, where he has been ever since. He has featured in the country’s top three tiers since the move and he currently plays in the top division with Waasland, the Pro League.

The Englishman started the match and his side held their own in the first half, going into the break level at 1-1.

However, Brugge were just too strong in the second half and ran out eventual 4-2 winners. Rowell played 88 minutes before being replaced with a few minutes to go.

Belgium: OH Leuven 0-0 Eendracht Aalst (Second Division)
Dropping down a division, another English midfielder started in Belgium. John Bostock was in the starting line-up as his side OH Leuven hosted Eedracht Aalst, who sat four places lower in the table in 10th place.

Despite having scored five goals in his first ten games for Leuven, Bostock was unable to score for a second game in succession as the game ended goalless. The 22-year-old did pick up a booking though.

Belgium: Dender 0-1 Gullegem (Third Division)
Adam Burnaby-Atkins made it a hat-trick of English midfielders who started in Belgium. The 18-year-old featured for Dender as they hosted Gullegem in the Belgian third tier.

Burnaby-Atkins had previously featured in DC United’s academy in America but is now in his first season of senior football in Belgium. This match marked his tenth appearance of the season but unfortunately for him, he was substituted at half time as his side lost 1-0 and remained in the bottom two.

Cyprus: Othellos 2-1 Ayia Napa (1. Division)
More renowned as hotspot for English tourists, Ayia Napa is also home to a top tier football club and their English defender Michael Felgate. He started for Ayia Napa as they travelled Othellos.

The 23-year-old was making his seventh start of the season and is a regular once again in the Ayia Napa line-up, having been in the side in the 2012/13 season as well.

It looked like it was going to be a clean sheet for defender Felgate but with just four minutes remaining, Brazilian striker Thiago Santos bagged a brace to secure victory for Othellos and condemn Ayia Napa to defeat.

Italy: Atalanta 1-2 AS Roma (Serie A)

Arguably the most high profile of all the English players abroad is former England international Ashley Cole. He started in defence for Roma as they travelled to Atalanta.

Despite Roma’s defence being breached in the very first minute of the match, Cole and co. managed to keep it tight at the back for the rest of the match as Roma secured victory with two first half goals.

Cole played the full ninety in his eighth league start of the season for Roma.

India: FC Goa 2-0 Pune City (Indian Super League)
Jermaine Pennant continued to have a miserable time in the Indian Super League as his his side Pune City lost again.

The English winger was starting his third consecutive game but it resulted in a third consecutive loss.

Goa took the lead in the 6th minute and wrapped up the victory with a second in second half stoppage time. By that point, Pennant was off the pitch, having been replaced by former French international David Trezeguet in the 83rd minute.

New Zealand: WaiBOP 3-1 Wanderers (ASB Premiership)
Yesterday saw the ASB Premiership’s bottom two clubs play each other, both looking of whom were looking for their first points of the season.

English midfielder Jerahl Hughes started for WaiBOP. The former Yeovil Town player, who made one appearance in League One in 2007, was making his debut for the New Zealand side, having joined them in the summer from Conference side Whitehawk.

Hughes saw his side go 3-0 up before Wanderers pulled one back but by which point, it was too late and WaiBOP had their first win of the year. The 25-year-old Englishmen played 74 minutes before being replaced.

Portugal: Trofense 0-5 Belenenses (Taça de Portugal)

English goalkeeper Matt Jones is enjoying a brilliant season between the sticks for Belenenses. His side are currently fourth in the Portuguese Primeira Liga and have now secured passed to the last 16 of the cup with an emphatic 5-0 win over Trofense.

Jones kept a clean sheet as his side ran rampant against their lower division rivals. Trofense are currently bottom of Portugal’s second tier and the cup offered them no escape as they were put to the side by Belenenses.

Slovakia: Trencin 3-1 Senica (Super Liga)
Trencin’s English defender James Lawrence continued to impress as he remained solid in defence to help his side defeat Senica 3-1.

Lawrence started in defence as his team hosted Senica in a 2nd versus 3rd battle. He played the full 90 minutes as they won to keep the pressure on MSK Zilina who are currently top of the Slovakian Super Liga.