Jan 12 2011

The Slovak Seagull

Meet Peter Brezovan.  I am absolutely delighted to present the 4th in our series of interviews with Slovak footballers.  After Frantisek Kubik, Dušan Perniš and Filip Mentel it is an absolute privilege to welcome Brighton & Hove Albion goalkeeper Peter Brezovan onto the site.

Peter started his career playing for youth teams in Bratislava, capital city of Slovakia before moving to the Czech Republic where he was initially signed by HFK Olomouc.  From there he moved to 1. FC Brno in the top flight of Czech football.  Peter spent several seasons at Brno before earning the opportunity to move to England.  In 2006,  Peter was signed by Swindon Town, where he went on to make 66 first team appearances.  After trials at various clubs, Peter eventually ended up on the south coast of England, where he played 20 times for The Seagulls in the 2009/10 season.  This season Peter is an important member of the Brighton squad currently top of League One and has featured in each of the FA Cup games in an ongoing winning run which sees his team face up against Watford, from one division higher, in the 4th round.

Peter is a player who has given everything in pursuit of his career as a professional footballer and I am delighted to have the opportunity to ask him a few questions, right here, exclusively on Britski Belasi:

Peter, can you tell us a bit more about where you grew up?

Yes I grew up in Bratislava, it’s brilliant I love Bratislava, I was born there and always go back there to visit my family, so that’s city number 1 for me.

You moved to the Czech Republic before you became a professional player, how did the move to Czech Republic and specifically FC Brno come about?

After a trial I went to HFK Olomouc, I spent 1 year there and after that I moved to Brno which is Premier League in Czech Republic – they chose me.

Do you remember a certain moment when you knew you were going to make it as a professional footballer and was that always your dream?

Yeah definitely, when I became a senior, everyone told me I could make it so I just went for it and luckily I became a pro in CZ.

Is there a specific person who really helped or motivated you during the early days?

Absolutely, I always needed someone who would push me forward, sometimes I got so frustrated and there were many good guys who stood by me and helped me get through everything.  I would say Jakubicka was one of the coaches who helped me a lot.  He was a goalkeeping coach in Bratislava and he helped me move to the Czech Republic as well so I was really happy to work with him.

Which team did you support when you were growing up?

I did like Slovan Bratislava, it’s a big team for me, it’s a club in Slovakia, quite famous, that club has good history.

[Slovan do toho - Ed]

Who was the most talented player you played with at Brno?

I would say Petr Svancara and Milan Pacanda were so talented, it’s just they liked many different things more than football so it didn’t go as well as it could, but definitely the biggest talents I’ve seen.

What really stood out about them?

They were very young and I don’t know how was the support from their family but they were very good, for example Pacanda had an offer from the Italian league when 17 or 18. He was a very good player but he had problems off the pitch.  It just didn’t go as well as it could have for him and he had a bad injury as well.

FC Brno 2005, Peter bottom left

What was your finest moment in Brno colours?

Mr first appearance for Brno was great – we played Sparta Prague and it was a great experience, I just enjoyed that time.

How about an away game against FC Slovacko in 2006 where you saved penalty after penalty in a shoot out?

Ah yeah, I remember!

You’ve got a reputation for saving penalties!

It didn’t mean so much for me – at that time I didn’t play for the first team and cup games are not like here in England, for example with the FA Cup, it’s not such a good level so I just took it as I took it, no big deal.

Do you still follow Zbrojovka Brno’s fortunes?

Yeah of course I have a look sometimes on the website and speak with guys who are still playing there but most of my best friends who were playing there left Brno so I don’t follow it that much now but I still have a look where are they in the table.

What are your thoughts on the situation at the club at the moment?

They are struggling but I think they just need a bit of luck to get back where they belong!

There isn’t much information on your time at Inter Bratislava.  Did you make any appearances?  Did you meet Fillip Mentel?

No I didn’t meet him, I was spending my time with Jakubicka and from the start, my loan there was not the best.   I made it back to the goal and then I did well but in the last game I knocked a player over and got a red card so that was it for me with that loan deal – I went back to Brno.   It was still a great time for me because I was living and playing in my home town Bratislava.

The club then merged with FK Senica – was it sad that Inter Bratislava disappeared and had to merge with another club?

It’s a big shame because Inter had a history and I’m just quite sad about that because as Slovakian football goes, you know I don’t know if the chairmen who run these clubs go the right way.  They should support these teams with a big history and it shouldn’t happen what just happened.

Here at Britski Belasi, our readers are interested in both Czech and Slovak football.   Therefore a potential merger between the Czech and Slovak leagues is a very interesting subject for us – how would it be to see the big rivalries between teams in these countries every week?

I think over the last years, it’s become quite even, [the standard of the] Czech league went down a bit and the Slovak league went a bit higher so it would be interesting to see those clubs face each other.

Do you think it would provide a chance for the level of football to improve, as a whole?

Yeah definitely, it would help each side in Slovak and Czech football, definitely.

You spent a lot of time at Brno and also Swindon before moving to Brighton.  How would you compare the standard of the Czech and Slovak leagues to English football?

I play in League One which is 3rd league in England but it’s still different because the people like football more here and the atmosphere around football is much better and the clubs look after everything much better than in Slovakia and Czech Republic so I would say it’s much better here.

How do you think Brighton would do if the team moved to the Czech or Slovak league?  Would they still be top of the league?

We played against Zlin [Czech Rep] in pre-season for Swindon and I could see we could play against them very easily.

We are all dreaming of a proper stadium in Bratislava, although at the moment it is a painful situation with little progress being made.  The pain for Slovan fans must be quite similar to that endured by Brighton fans after losing the Goldstone Ground and then having to watch their team play for so long at The Withdean.  If the end result in Bratislava is something similar to the new Falmer Stadium, then I guess we will all be happy eventually. How does it feel to see Slovan Bratislava and the Slovak National Team playing at Pasienky stadium rather than Tehelne Pole?

I don’t think it makes a difference, the distance between the 2 stadiums is just 5 minutes.  I don’t think it’s bad; it’s normal. People get used to it, I don’t think it will be a problem.

Interestingly the first English manager to sign you was Dennis Wise at Swindon when Gus Poyet was his assistant, now you are playing under Gus Poyet at Brighton.  What sort of feeling do you have towards Gus Poyet as a person and as a coach?

When Gus was in Swindon I broke my arm after a few months and he was always a great man and he had a great attitude, he was a big professional.  I just know him as a great professional and now he is proving himself as a great manager, so that’s the thing; I can just respect him.

Tony Godden is the goalkeeping coach at Brighton; how is the coaching in England for goalkeepers compared to back home in Slovakia?

There is no big difference, it’s kind of the same, it’s more about how you get on with that person – how you can talk to each other about how to improve – what you did wrong, how you can improve.  There is no major difference.

Brighton are obviously going through a great spell at the moment; top of the league – how does it feel to be involved in a squad that’s doing so well this season ?

To be fair, I’ve never been involved in as good a team as I am now so that’s a great experience and you can feel it in the dressing room – the atmosphere is great and we just try to enjoy it as I do – I am really enjoying it.  In Swindon we were always around 13th or 14th place so its not the best, this is something different.

So, is this the most enjoyable season you’ve had as a footballer?

Yeah, yeah definitely, and it’s a big responsibility as well – I’m not playing at the moment, but if something happens, that’s a big pressure, that’s really different.

Do you have a highlight and lowlight of your career so far?

Not really, not really, I think I had great form before I broke my arm [while playing for Swindon] and that was the best time in my career.  I was just playing and I had a good manager behind me who could help me. I felt great, then the broken arm happened and I was one year off.  That was probably the highlight [and lowlight].

You had a trial for Everton, a club which has now signed Jan Mucha [Slovak National Goalkeeper] who hasn’t actually played yet this season.  How difficult is it as a goalkeeper to decide which club to go to to fulfil your potential while knowing you might end up spending a lot of time sitting on the bench?

You have to take it – if you have an opportunity to go to Everton – that’s a club from the Premier League the best league in the world so you can’t just refuse it because you have in your head that you wont play.  We just have to go there and try to get the first place.

Do you have any regrets in your career?

Not really, I am quite happy, I could go higher, I could go lower, so I found a nice middle ground.

Do you feel that the best of Peter Brezovan is still to come? Are you at your best now?

I don’t play now.  If you want to prove something you have to play.  Of course I feel I can play again and be better than I am now.  You always have to think you have something to prove.

You and Caspar Ankergren are currently competing for that starting place in The Seagulls’ goal. Is it a friendly rivalry? How do you guys get on off the pitch, and on the pitch?

That’s definitely the best relationship I ever had with any team mate.   I really can’t complain He’s a great guy, we spend a lot of time together on and off the pitch.  I would say it can’t be any better.

Are you satisfied at the moment with just playing cup games or are you fishing to get the number 1 jersey back?

Of course I try to get back into the goal, but if the team plays well there is not much point to change the keeper so I have to wait.

If Brighton get promoted this season and Crystal Palace stay in the league above you could play each other.  As a Slovakian are you aware what that means to the fans, the rivalry between Brighton and Crystal Palace?

No, I have no idea!

[he does now - Ed!]

At 31 you should still have a good few years left in you as a goalkeeper.  How would you like to see your career develop from here?  Can you see yourself returning to end your career back in Slovakia or Czech Republic?

Last season was quite hard, I couldn’t get a club and football changes every year so I have no idea what’s going to be after another year, so I don’t want to predict the future. I would like to come back to the Czech Republic, why not? I’ve got a girlfriend there so I would love to live there after my career so it would be nice to play for a team.

You’re a talented artist.  Do you have any plans for an exhibition?

I was planning to do an exhibition but I didn’t have time.  I wanted to do that in Czech and then I moved to Brighton.  I’m still doing my art, and when I come back home I’ll definitely do an exhibition and try to make some money from it.  It’s a good hobby and it can be a good business too.

Dušan Perniš [Dundee Utd & Slovakia GK] recommends our English readers to try babovka [a Slovak cake].  Would you agree with him or do you have another Slovak cake you would recommend?

I’m not a big fan of English food so I would recommend every single food from Slovakia!

What Slovakian food do you miss the most?

I just miss a bit of salt, pepper and garlic in every food – that’s the basic in Slovakian food and I just cant feel it in English food!

Peter, you’ve been absolutely brilliant, I am sure your fans would love to see you back in Brno and in the meantime, we wish you, and The Seagulls the best of success this season and beyond.  If you do think about returning home, I am sure that Slovan Bratislava are always on the look out for a goalkeeper as talented as yourself!  Besides, we are friends with Brno!

I have to thank Ralph Davies – a massive Brno fan, and friend of the site, for his help. Keep reading Britski Belasi for more from Peter’s old team-mates back in Brno!

I would like to thank Danny Last and Paul Camillin for their help and especially Will Jago at Brighton & Hove Albion for making this interview happen.

To echo previous sentiments, talking to guys like Frantisek, Dusan, Filip & Peter is absolutely fascinating and it really means a lot for the fans to get this kind of contact with the players they turn out to watch every week!  Hopefully there will be more like this to come, from Britski Belasi, the Slovak Football Blog!

4 responses so far

4 Responses to “The Slovak Seagull”

  1.   Danny Laston 12 Jan 2011 at 3:04 am

    What an absolute top chap. I’m glad through the power of Britski Belasi, Brez has now been made fully aware of the Brighton v Crystal Palace rivarly. If he keeps a couple of clean sheets against them next season, then I’ll ship over some Slovak salt, pepper and garlic for him – and no mistake.

  2.   Damonon 12 Jan 2011 at 3:11 am

    What a thoroughly nice, straightforward bloke. Refreshing. I now feel really quite guilty about lamely calling him “Brezhnev” in our Woking v Brighton match report. Incidentally, he didn’t concede a single goal in that penalty shoot out! Clean sheet.

  3.   James Baxteron 12 Jan 2011 at 10:22 am

    Fascinating. A lot of insights there. More forthcoming than Pernis I have to say. I’ve often wondered how a League 1 side would do against a top league CZ/SK side so it’s good to have the pro’s view on that – though I guess he has to say something that’s loyal to Brighton.

    Anyway, great interview, enjoyed it a lot.

  4.   britskibelasion 12 Jan 2011 at 4:40 pm

    Yeah it was a fairly non-commital answer (aren’t Zlin in Div 2 now?) .. but I reckon Albion would give MSK Zilina a run for their money!

    Not so sure about his answer to the Pasienky question, but then again if all the players and fans had that attitude and just got on with it and get used to it while proactively pursuing a proper solution then Slovan probably wouldn’t be in their current situation. Some really interesting parallels with Brighton. Can we just replicate and drop Falmer in Bratislava?!

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