Brighton 2017/18: Where Are They Now?
Amidst what had been a turbulent week for those associated with Brighton and Hove Albion, supporters of the south coast club could be forgiven for forgetting the anniversary of a major milestone in Brighton’s recent history. However, as some supporters would have been aware, Friday the 9th of September was the fifth anniversary of Brighton’s first ever win in the Premier League.
The day itself was a momentous occasion for the Albion, with Chris Hughton’s side securing a first top- flight victory for the Seagulls in over thirty years. Despite several changes for the Seagulls in the campaigns which followed, the side which secured Brighton’s first ever Premier League victory will forever be fondly remembered by supporters of the south coast side.
But what happened to the team which took to the field that day? Below is a summary for every player who started for the Seagulls in their first Premier League victory, allowing an insight into the individuals who aided the Albion to victory over West Brom in September 2017.
Goalkeeper: Mathew Ryan
In between the sticks for the Seagulls was Australian goalkeeper Mathew Ryan. Despite conceding on the day to West Brom’s James Morrison, the Australian International would go on to have a solid season on the south coast, ending the 2017/18 campaign with 10 clean sheets in what had been a respectable debut season for Ryan. Mathew would go on to make over 100 appearances for the Albion, earning himself plenty of plaudits in a stint which saw him keep 28 clean sheets in the top- flight.
In January 2021, Ryan swapped the Albion for Arsenal, making the move to North London on loan due to his lack of play time under Potter in the 2020/21 campaign. Six months later, Ryan departed the Seagulls for Spain, signing on for La Liga side Real Sociedad. The 30-year-old currently plays in Denmark for top- flight side F.C. Copenhagen, having joined the Superliga side in the summer.
Captain: Bruno Saltor
Spanish defender Bruno Saltor played a vital role in Brighton’s back line during his seven-year stint on the south coast. The 41-year-old was Brighton’s first captain of their Premier League era, having taken the armband in the previous campaign. Saltor enjoyed great success on the south coast, proving to be a fan favourite amongst the Albion’s faithful for his efforts in guiding the Seagulls to the Premier League. Despite coming off after an hour in Brighton’s 3-1 victory over West Brom, Bruno would enjoy a successful 2017/18 campaign with the Seagulls, keeping 8 clean sheets in 25 league appearances as he guided his side to Premier League safety.
Bruno would retire at the end of the following season, ending his seven-year stint on the south coast with 225 appearances for the Albion. One month after his final game, Bruno would return to Brighton in a coaching role, with the former captain appointed as a senior player development coach. After three years in his role, Bruno would depart Brighton for Chelsea, where he now occupies a coaching role under former Brighton manager Graham Potter.
Defender: Shane Duffy
Alongside Bruno was Irish defender Shane Duffy. The Republic of Ireland international played a key role in Hughton’s plans, featuring in every league game bar one in the 2017/18 campaign. However, the departure of Chris Hughton at the end of the following campaign hampered Duffy’s playing time, with the 30-year-old making just 19 league appearances for the Albion in Potter’s debut season.
Duffy would go out on loan to Scottish side Celtic at the start of the 2020/21 season, before returning to the south coast just before the end of the campaign, having made 27 appearances during his stint in Scotland. Duffy would make 18 league appearances for the Albion in 2021/22, earning four clean sheets for Potter’s side in the process. Shane Duffy is currently on loan at fellow Premier League outfit Fulham, having joined Marco Silva’s side in the summer.
Defender: Lewis Dunk
Completing the centre- back partnership on the day is Lewis Dunk. The Brighton born defender featured in every league game for the Albion in 2017/18, earning ten clean sheets for his side as the Seagulls secured Premier League safety. The following season, Dunk would lead out his side at Wembley, taking the captains armband for the Albion in their narrow FA Cup semi-final defeat to eventual champions Manchester City. Following Bruno’s retirement, Lewis Dunk would be handed the captains armband on a permanent basis, becoming the first captain of the Graham Potter era.
Despite the pressure of taking the armband, it appears that Dunk has taken the responsibility in his stride. The 30-year-old has enjoyed great success since being appointed as captain, guiding his side to their highest ever league finish in a season which showcased Dunk’s defensive abilities to the country. Dunk has made just under 350 appearances in his ongoing stint with the Seagulls, earning himself a spot amongst some of the greatest in Brighton’s recent history.
Defender: Markus Suttner
The final piece of Brighton’s back line on the day was Markus Suttner. Despite starting against West Brom, the Austrian International would not prove to be a major part of Hughton’s plans, making just 14 league appearances in his debut season with the Seagulls. Five months into the 2018/19 campaign, Suttner would depart the south coast for Germany, signing on for Fortuna Düsseldorf on loan from the Albion. However, Suttner would not return to the south coast, with the Austrian defender signing a one-year contract with Fortuna Düsseldorf in July 2019. Since departing Düsseldorf in 2020, Suttner has since returned to his native Austria, where he now plays for top tier side FK Austria Wien.
Central Midfielder: Dale Stephens
Bolton born midfielder Dale Stephens played a significant role for the Seagulls in their debut Premier League season. The former Charlton man made 36 league appearances for the Albion in 2017/18, contributing three assists for his side. Stephens would continue to be a regular starter for the Seagulls in the two seasons which followed, before departing Brighton for Burnley in September 2020.
In total, Stephens made over 200 appearances in a six-year stint with the Seagulls, scoring 14 goals in all competitions for the Albion. Unfortunately, Stephen’s stint at Burnley proved to be short lived, having been released in June 2022 after making just ten appearances in a two-year spell with the Clarets. The former Brighton midfielder is currently a free agent, having failed to find a club in the summer.
Central Midfielder: Davy Propper
Alongside Dale Stephens in the heart of midfield was Davy Propper. The former Netherlands international was a major part of Brighton’s midfield in the 2017/18 campaign, providing four assists in 35 league appearances for the Albion. In similar fashion to Dale Stephens, Propper would continue to be a regular starter for Brighton in the two campaigns which followed, establishing himself as a key figure in Brighton’s midfield.
However, an injury hit 2020/21 campaign prevented Propper from gaining regular game time, meaning that Propper would make just seven league appearances in his final season on the south coast. In June 2021, Propper would conclude his four-year stint on the south coast, returning to his native Netherlands to play for former side PSV Eindhoven. Propper would go on to make nine appearances for PSV before announcing his retirement from professional football in January 2022.
Attacking Midfielder: Pascal Gross
German midfielder Pascal Gross enjoyed arguably one of his best games in a Brighton shirt in his side’s 3-1 victory over West Brom. The 31-year-old, who signed on for the Seagulls in the 2017 summer transfer window, struck twice on the day to secure both Brighton’s first win and first goals of the Premier League era. As the 2017/18 campaign progressed, Pascal Gross would continue to establish himself as a key figure in Chris Hughton’s side, securing a combined total of 15 goals and assists in 18 league appearances for the Sussex side.
Five years later, the German midfielder is still with the Seagulls, having made over 150 league appearances for the Albion. Whilst Gross has not always ended the season with a high tally of goals, his combined total of 49 goals and assists in the Premier League highlights the contribution made by Gross in his ongoing stint on the south coast.
Winger: Solly March
Operating on the left wing for Brighton was Solly March. Whilst March often features as a left wing back, Brighton’s 3-1 victory over West Brom saw him operate higher up the field. The decision made to field March further up the pitch evidently paid off, with the 28-year-old providing the assist for the Albion’s opener. March would go on to make 36 league appearances in 2017/18, ending the campaign with a combined total of two goals and assists. Five years later, the Sussex born wing back is still at the club, having made over 200 appearances since signing on for the Seagulls in 2011. Solly March remains a vital part of Brighton’s starting eleven, having featured in every one of Brighton’s opening six league fixtures in the current campaign.
Winger: Anthony Knockaert
Accompanying March out- wide was French winger Anthony Knockaert. Whilst Knockaert played a significant role for the Seagulls in the 2016/17 season, earning both promotion to the Premier League and the Championship player of the season of the award, the 2017/18 campaign appeared to highlight a change in form for the French winger. Knockaert struck home just three times in 33 league appearances for the Sussex side, a severe contrast to the form which earned him plenty of plaudits in the previous campaign.
After a disappointing 2018/19 campaign, the Frenchman would swap the south coast for Fulham, making his way to West London on loan. A year later, the move would be made permanent, ending Knockaert’s four-year stint with the Seagulls. Knockaert made over 120 appearances for Brighton, scoring 25 goals in a stint which will be remembered most fondly for his formidable form in the 2016/17 campaign, in which his efforts helped guide the Albion to the top- flight. Following a brief loan spell at Nottingham Forest, in which he was reunited with former Brighton teammates Glenn Murray and Gaëtan Bong, Knockaert would return to Fulham, for whom he currently plays for.
Forward: Tomer Hemed
Up front for the Albion was Israel international Tomer Hemed. The former Mallorca man impressed in front of the Amex faithful in Brighton’s 3-1 win over West Brom, securing a goal and an assist in the second half for the Seagulls. Hemed would go on to score in Brighton’s following home game, a 1-0 win over Newcastle United, however it would prove to be his last of the league campaign.
The following season, Hemed would be sent on loan to Championship side Queens Park Rangers, before signing for Charlton Athletic in August 2019, having been released by Brighton. Hemed made 97 appearances for the Albion, scoring 30 times in a four-year stint with the south coast side. Following his departure from Charlton in 2020, Hemed would go on to play for a host of clubs, before returning to his native Israel in the summer to sign for top tier side Hapoel Be'er Sheva F.C.