Brighton v Hull City: FA Cup s till holds that same thrill for Matthew Upson

A quarter-final against Sunderland awaits the winner

A player with Premier League and World Cup finals experience might be excused for not fancying an FA Cup tie away to Port Vale, especially when other senior pros are being rested. But Matthew Upson insisted on taking part in Brighton’s fourth-round trip to Vale Park last month and the reward for a 3-1 victory was tonight’s home fifth-round match against Hull City, managed by Steve Bruce, for whom Upson played for four years at Birmingham City.

“You never know when it’s going to be the last time you play in the FA Cup,” Upson, 34, said. “I absolutely love it and am looking forward to the Hull tie. I don’t regard ourselves as being a million miles away from Premier League standard and we’re at home.”

Upson was an Arsenal player when they reached three finals, although he did not even make the bench in 1998 or 2003 and broke his leg in a game at Everton in February 2002, just when he had won a regular place in a side on course for the Double – “really disappointing, because it was quite a breakthrough year for me at Arsenal. I’d just forced my way into the team ahead of Martin Keown. It was bad timing.”

He had played enough games to qualify for a Premier League winner’s medal, but decided to move on to St Andrew’s when Bruce offered £1m for him in January 2003 – half what Arsenal had paid Luton Town for the 18-year-old Upson in May 1997. “I would say Steve Bruce is a very traditional English manager,” Upson says. “He relies a lot on his personal relationships with the players. He wants to control a lot of things, transfer policy and recruitment. He likes to be quite direct, get the ball in to the front, get crosses in the box and play with a high tempo, aggressive, on the front foot – so I think that’s how Hull will play.”

If that sounds like adverse criticism, it is not. Upson takes changes of style in his stride, such as his most recent move last season from Tony Pulis’s Stoke City to Brighton and Gus Poyet’s passing game, which has been carried on by Oscar Garcia, the former Barcelona midfield player and youth coach.

“It was difficult adapting at Stoke at times, but I learnt a lot,” Upson said. “Every different style and every manager you work under you learn something. But I find this football suits me better, taking the ball and wanting to play. Having researched [Oscar] and looked at his background I assumed that he would want to continue that style.”

Brighton are on a run of four successive 1-0 wins at the Amex Stadium in all competitions, and Upson believes he is playing as well as when he became the last England player to score at a World Cup, against Germany in Bloemfontein in 2010. “It was something I had worked towards for six years. When I set that target I was a million miles from it and it was an outstanding achievement for me [even though] the tournament didn’t weigh up as I had dreamt it.”

Now he has a less lofty aim, but one which he approaches with the same dedication: “Playing for as long as I can, at the highest level I can... I’ll strive to do that until I feel it’s not possible.”

Suggested Topics
Life and Style
Small winemakers say the restriction makes it hard to sell overseas
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
A comedy show alumni who has gone on to be a big star, Jon Stewart
tvRival television sketch shows vie for influential alumni
Arts and Entertainment
Carrie Hope Fletcher
booksFirst video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
News
Clare Balding
peopleClare Balding on how women's football is shaking up sport
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Damien Hirst
artCoalition's anti-culture policy and cuts in local authority spending to blame, says academic
Sport
premier leagueMatch report: Arsenal 1 Man United 2
Arts and Entertainment
Kirk Cameron is begging his Facebook fans to give him positive reviews
film
News
i100
Sport
Jonny May scores for England
rugby unionEngland 28 Samoa 9: Wing scores twice to help England record their first win in six
Life and Style
fashionThe Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Arts and Entertainment
Jason goes on a special mission for the queen
tvReview: Everyone loves a CGI Cyclops and the BBC's Saturday night charmer is getting epic
Arts and Entertainment
Jerry Hall (Hand out press photograph provided by jackstanley@theambassadors.com)
theatre
Sport
Tony Bellew (left) and Nathan Cleverly clash at the Echo Arena in Liverpool
boxingLate surge sees Liverpudlian move into world title contention
Voices
Neil Findlay
voicesThe vilification of the potential Scottish Labour leader Neil Findlay shows how one-note politics is today, says DJ Taylor
Life and Style
food + drinkMeat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

The last Christians in Iraq

After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Britain braced for Black Friday
Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

From America's dad to date-rape drugs

Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

Flogging vlogging

First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

US channels wage comedy star wars
When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible
Look what's mushrooming now! Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector

Look what's mushrooming now!

Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector
Neil Findlay is more a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

More a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

The vilification of the potential Scottish Labour leader Neil Findlay shows how one-note politics is today, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Tenderstem broccoli omelette; Fried eggs with Mexican-style tomato and chilli sauce; Pan-fried cavolo nero with soft-boiled egg

Oeuf quake

Bill Granger's cracking egg recipes
Terry Venables: Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back

Terry Venables column

Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back
Michael Calvin: Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

Those at the top are allowing the same issues to go unchallenged, says Michael Calvin