Johnny Cantor: Partnerships are a key foundation to being successful

I have to thank the road closures and lane reductions for this week's column.

Friday, 30th September 2016, 8:00 am
Updated Friday, 8th June 2018, 3:15 am
Tomer Hemed in action for Albion earlier this season. Picture: Phil Westlake

Driving back from the dullest game of the season at Ipswich, at 1.30am the conversation in the car moved from West Indian legendary cricketers back to Portman Road.

One of the great things about going to Suffolk is the chance to talk to the gentleman that is Mick Mills.

The England international made nearly 750 appearances for the Tractor Boys. Softly spoken, insightful in the commentary box, he was a terrier on the pitch.

Ahead of kick-off, he told me how he loves to watch another full-back, Bruno, and felt his partnership with Anthony Knockaert was a key factor in Brighton & Hove Albion’s good form.

Partnerships across the pitch are so important and Mills feels if you get five good ‘partnerships’ you are on the road to success. He highlighted some of the great players he had played with and he cited the wonderful period in Ipswich’s history when Arnold Muhren and Frans Thijssen were playing in the late 70’s and early 80’s. They were so cultured but hard-working and blended well into English football. It doesn’t always work, but there have been other foreign duos that stick in the memory.

Those of a certain age will remember Argentinian Osvaldo Ardiles and Ricky Villa, who were lured to Spurs by Keith Burkenshaw after they won the 1978 World Cup.

Many will remember the bearded wonder’s goal that won the 1981 FA Cup final replay against Manchester City.

The Albion squad now boasts a pair of Israeli internationals, Tomer Homed and Beram Kayal, and both have settled in the squad and the environment as if it were home. They aren’t playing as right-back and right midfielder but are important components in the team’s make-up. From what I have seen, they are professional, hard-working and determined but don’t seek headlines.

Despite different religious beliefs, the pair appear to be great friends.

Their bond is a joy to see for anyone like me, who has spent long periods in their country that has so many rifts.

They provide spice and colour to the club and the division.

The Seagulls’ supporters will be hoping they drive the team to success and are remembered fondly by team-mates, as clearly Mills does for his old friends at Ipswich. Kayal will be missing for his club this weekend, and his country the following week, but his absence will give a chance to others to fill the void. There have been eloquent callers and passionate texters to the show in recent weeks and don’t expect anything different for Saturday’s return to Hillsborough after that painful play-off semi-final last season.

With his passion for the club it wouldn’t surprise me if Beram will be listening in - let’s hope he gives us a call.

If he doesn’t call in, don’t forget, you can. Win, lose or draw, BBC Sussex sport is there for you.

Johnny Cantor covers Brighton & Hove Albion as a commentator and reporter for BBC Sussex Sport.

Follow all the action, home or away, on BBC Sussex Sport or Twitter: @BBCSussexSport or @johnnycburger

To read more by Johnny Cantor, visit

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