With yet another international break drawing to a close, supporters across the country will be looking ahead to the weekend’s league fixtures. However, on the south coast, there is likely to be a small sense of trepidation amongst some supporters.
On Saturday, Brighton supporters will see their side enter a new era, with Italian manager Roberto De Zerbi making his debut in the Brighton dugout. The 43- year- old, appointed just under two weeks ago by the Seagulls, will have an opportunity to impress when his side travel to face an out of form Liverpool side at Anfield.
Whilst Liverpool’s shaky form provides encouragement for the Albion ahead of Saturday’s encounter at Anfield, it must be acknowledged that trips to the North- West have not always been fruitful. As supporters of the Seagulls will be aware, it was just over a decade ago when the south coast side found themselves on the receiving end of a 6-1 thrashing away to Kenny Dalglish’s Liverpool side.
Whilst the defeat itself was a humiliating one for those associated with the Seagulls, some supporters of the south coast side may still be fond of the team which took to the field that day. Gus Poyet’s class of 2011/12 was the first Brighton team to take to the field at the Amex, in addition to being the first Brighton team to score at Anfield for over twenty years.
But what happened to the Brighton team which took to the field that day? Below is a summary for every player who started for Brighton in their FA Cup tie away to Liverpool in 2012, allowing an insight into the careers of Gus Poyet’s class of 2011/12.
Goalkeeper: Peter Brezovan
In between the sticks for the Seagulls at Anfield was Peter Brezovan. The Slovakian shot- stopper did not enjoy the best of games on the day, conceding six in a miserable afternoon for the Albion. However, Brezovan would save a penalty late on from Luis Suárez, a forward who has often been argued as one of the greatest to grace the Premier League. Coincidentally, Brezovan would depart Brighton in the same transfer window as Luis Suárez did with Liverpool, ending a five-year stint with the Seagulls to join League Two side Portsmouth.
However, the deal was on a short term, non- contract basis, allowing Brezovan to depart for Tranmere Rovers just two weeks later. At the end of the 2014/15 league campaign, Brezovan would be released by the Birkenhead based side, setting the stage for his retirement from professional football. Following his retirement, Brezovan would swap football stadiums for recording studios, trying his hand at composing his own songs.
Defender: Iñigo Calderón
Filling in at right back for Brighton was Iñigo Calderón. Whilst the Albion’s FA cup run did end in a disappointing manner, it must be acknowledged that Calderón played a significant role in the class of 2011/12 itself. The Spanish International scored 4 goals in 32 league appearances, assisting the Albion in securing a respectable mid-table finish.
Following his departure from Brighton in 2016, Calderón would go on to play in Cyprus for top tier outift Anorthosis, before completing his career in India with Super League side Chennayin. Calderón currently resides in his native Spain, having retired from professional football in 2019. Since his retirement, the 40-year-old has delved into coaching, and is currently the assistant manager of Deportivo Alavés B.
Captain: Gordon Greer
Taking the armband for the Albion at Anfield was Scottish centre back Gordon Greer. Whilst any club captain would dream of leading their side out at Wembley for a cup final, this dream would not materialise for Greer. The Scottish skipper would see his side’s hopes of a trip to Wembley crushed twice by Liverpool in 2011/12, both in the League and FA Cup, the latter of which providing a humbling experience away from home.
However, it must be acknowledged that Gordon Greer played a vital part in Brighton’s defence during his six-year stint on the south coast, having made 209 appearances for Brighton. Greer would depart the Albion in 2016, swapping Brighton for Blackburn Rovers, for whom he made 21 appearances for in all competitions. Following a short spell in Lancashire, Greer would return to his native Scotland, where he would retire in 2018 with Kilmarnock. Gordon Greer currently occupies a coaching role with the Albion, having been appointed as Pathway Development Manager in May 2022.
Defender: Lewis Dunk
Alongside Gordon Greer in the heart of Brighton’s defence was Lewis Dunk. Although Dunk was just 21 years old when he took to the field for the Albion that day, it must be acknowledged that the Sussex born defender did not have his best game in a Brighton shirt when his side travelled to Anfield in 2012. Dunk would score a comical own goal in front of the Kop to provide Liverpool with their fifth goal of the day, in turn being Brighton’s third own goal that afternoon.
Despite a disappointing day for Dunk, it is evident his future as a Brighton player would not be tarnished. Instead, Dunk would go on to follow in the footsteps of the man which stood beside him at the back in Brighton’s class of 2011/12, having been awarded the captain’s armband on a permanent basis in 2019. The 30-year-old has made over 300 appearances for Brighton, in addition to scoring just over 20 times in an ongoing stint for the Seagulls.
Defender: Adam El-Abd
Completing Brighton’s back line on the day is Egyptian International Adam El-Abd. Although the encounter with Liverpool would have undoubtably been a disappointing one for El- Abd, the same cannot be said for the 2011/12 campaign as a whole. El- Abd would make 25 appearances in all competitions for the Albion in 2011/12, in addition to completing his 250th league appearance for the Seagulls in the same season.
Two years after the encounter with Liverpool, El- Abd would swap Brighton for Bristol City, having made 300 appearances for the Albion in an incredible eleven-year stint. Following his departure from Bristol City in 2016, El- Abd would go on to play for a host of clubs, before returning to Sussex in 2020 to play for semi- professional outfit Whitehawk FC. Despite signing for National league South side Worthing this summer, El-Abd would opt not to continue his playing career, announcing his retirement from professional football in August.
Defensive Midfielder: Liam Bridcutt
Whilst Brighton’s trip to Anfield in 2012 was a day to forget for all of those associated with the club, it is fair to say that no one would have been as humiliated as Liam Bridcutt on the day. The Scottish midfielder endured arguably the worst game of his professional career, scoring two own goals in a match which was, at the time, Brighton’s biggest defeat of the season. However, Bridcutt would go on to have a stellar season for the Seagulls. The Scotland international would make 43 league appearances for the Albion in 2011/12, earning himself Brighton’s player of the season award for his efforts.
Bridcutt would replicate this in the following league campaign, earning a second consecutive player of the season award in a season which saw him called up to Gordon Strachan’s Scotland side. A year after his Scotland call up, Bridcutt would swap the south coast for Sunderland, ending a four-year stint with the Seagulls, in which he made 132 appearances. Following his departure from Sunderland in 2016, Bridcutt would go on to play for a number of clubs, with his most recent side being League one outfit Lincoln City. The 33- year- old departed Lincoln City in June 2022, in turn rendering him a free agent after a two-year spell with the Imps.
Midfielder: Alan Navarro
Making a return to his boyhood club was midfielder Alan Navarro. The former Liverpool academy player did not make a strong impact on his return to the North- West, instead picking up a booking in what was a disappointing day for Brighton. However, Navarro was able to earn himself a significant amount of game time in the 2011/12 campaign, making 39 appearances in all competitions for the Seagulls.
Two months after Brighton’s trip to Anfield, Navarro would be released by Brighton, ending Navarro’s three-year stint on the south coast, in which he made 73 appearances. Navarro would then swap the south coast for Swindon Town, for whom he scored for on his debut to knock Brighton out of the League cup. In 2014, Navarro would end his two-year stint with Swindon, having made just 17 appearances for the Robins. As a result of his departure, Navarro would opt to retire from professional football, having made a total of 305 appearances across a number of clubs.
Winger: Will Buckley
Operating out- wide for the Albion was Will Buckley. The 2011/12 campaign was Buckley’s debut season for the Seagulls, having signed from Watford in June 2011 for a then club record fee of £1 million. Whilst Buckley did enjoy an impressive debut season for the Seagulls, scoring 8 times in 35 appearances, it must be acknowledged that the encounter with Liverpool saw Buckley fail to make any real impact. Instead, the winger was subbed off for Craig Noone, who would go on to concede a penalty having fouled Liverpool’s Luis Suárez.
Two years after the trip to Anfield, Buckley would depart Brighton, ending a three-year stint on the south coast in which he made 96 appearances. Following his departure,
Buckley would follow in the footsteps of Liam Bridcutt by swapping the south coast for Sunderland, for whom he made 22 appearances in a three-year stint. Following Sunderland’s relegation from the Premier League in 2017, Buckley would depart for Bolton Wanderers, who would prove to be his final club. In 2020, following an injury struck spell with Bolton, Buckley opted to retire from professional football aged just 30. The former Brighton winger would go on to set up ‘WEB Sports management’, an agency which he currently owns.
Winger: Kazenga LuaLua
Also featuring on the wing for the Albion was Kazenga LuaLua. Whilst a vast majority of the Brighton side which featured against Liverpool vastly unperformed, it must be acknowledged that Kazenga LuaLua earned plenty of plaudits for his contribution at Anfield. The Congo international equalised for the Albion with a stunning strike in front of the Kop, a factor which would prove to be Brighton’s only real highlight of the day. However, LuaLua’s strike for the Seagulls would prove to be one of just two goals in all competitions for the Albion in 2011/12, a disappointing statistic given Brighton’s desire to make his loan deal a permanent one just three months into the campaign.
LuaLua would make a total of 127 appearances for the Albion, before departing for Sunderland in January 2018 on a free transfer. Following his departure from Sunderland at the end of the 2017/18 campaign, LuaLua would go on to play for a small number of sides, before signing on for Greek side Levadiakos FC earlier this year.
Forward: Sam Vokes
Up front for the Albion was Welsh striker Sam Vokes. In similar fashion to Will Buckley, the 2011/12 campaign was a first in a Brighton shirt for Sam Vokes, albeit on loan from Wolves. In the encounter with Liverpool, Vokes would fail to make a real impact up front, a factor which saw him substituted for Craig Mackail- Smith with twenty minutes left to play. Unfortunately for the forward, the 2011/12 campaign proved to be somewhat disappointing for Vokes, having netted just 3 times in 14 appearances for the Albion.
As a result, Brighton would allow Vokes to depart at the end of the 2011/12 season, ending the Welsh International’s short spell on the south coast. Following his departure, Vokes would go on to sign for Burnley, for whom he made 230 appearances in a seven- year stint with the Clarets. The 32- year- old currently plays for League one outfit Wycombe Wanderers, having joined the Chairboys in July 2021.
Forward: Ashley Barnes
Alongside Sam Vokes up front was Ashley Barnes. Despite failing to score on the day for the Seagulls, Barnes would go on to enjoy a stellar season on the south coast. The English forward scored 11 goals in 42 league appearances, ending the 2011/12 campaign as Brighton’s top scorer.
Two years after the encounter with Liverpool, Barnes would depart Brighton, having made 141 appearances in a four- year stint on the south coast, scoring 42 goals in the process. The departure of Barnes would see the Englishman swap Brighton for Burnley, signing on in January 2014 on a three-and-a-half-year deal. Eight years later, Barnes is still at Burnley, with his ongoing stint producing 45 goals in 237 appearances.