Small wonders keep the seagulls flying

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By Gerry Cox for 90 Minutes Magazine (Issue 40) on 7 February 1991:

Mike Small has returned from a Greek tragedy to spearhead brighton’s rally for promotion.

The much travelled striker scored his 18th goal of the season last Saturday as Brighton beat Charlton 2-1 to keep them in sixth place in the Second Division.

With four teams to be promoted at the end of the season, the Seagulls hopes are soaring high. But Small is being realistic about Brighton’s chances should they reach the top flight.

Brighton took Liverpool to extra time in the replay of their FA Cup Fourth Round tie at the beginning of the month, but Small said: “We have to improve if we are to go up.

“It is a different game in the Second Division – much quicker and more direct. Against opposition such as Liverpool, we played cultured football.

“But those games left us very tired, and we just did what we had to do against Charlton.” Small limped away from Selhurst Park with a bruised thigh and a headache and was suffering from double vision throughout the second half.

But he is happier in England than he was in Greece, with he played for PAOK Salonika.

Birmingham-born Small started his career with Luton Town in 1982, but then left Britain to play for Standard Liège in Belgium. He moved on to Holland, where he played for Go-Ahead Amsterdam and Twente Enschede before going to Greece. There he was subjected to a torrid time from the fans, and was only too happy to sign for Brighton just a week before the new season got under way.

Now his £50,000 fee looks like one of the bargains of the season, as his powerful approach has brought 18 goals and the prospect of many more to follow.

Small ended the season with 21 goals, leading to a big £400,000 move to West Ham United. At Upton Park, despite hitting an impressive 18 goals for the Hammers in his first season, his new side were relegated. A back injury, not to mention competition from Trevor Morley and Clive Allen, hindered the striker’s progress. He eventually had loan spells with Wolves and Charlton in 1993/94 before moving back abroad with Swedish side BK Hacken. Short spells with Sligo Rovers (Ireland), Littlehampton, Stevenage Borough and Baldock Town followed as his life as a footballing nomad resumed.

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