Kuipers relishing his testimonial chance
MICHEL Kuipers hopes Crawley Town fans will join him on an "emotional and special night" – his testimonial playing for Brighton & Hove Albion.
The keeper, 37, has waited a long time for his testimonial, having left the Seagulls two years ago after a decade's service.
And it seems only fitting that it should be in the long-awaited new stadium, the Amex, which opened just over a year ago.
Kuipers will face Reading on Tuesday August 7, just four days before Crawley host Brighton at the Broadfield in their final pre-season game announced last week.
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The keeper said he was grateful that Dick Knight, then chairman and now Seagulls president, and his successor Tony Bloom had stuck to their promises of a game.
"They've granted me the game to represent Brighton at the Amex, a stadium that was something I campaigned for over my 10 years.
"The importance of this stadium is not just to the football club but the community.
"I've been on several marches along the sea front and things like that.
"When Micky Adams signed me, he said to me 'look across the fields here. In about 18 months time there will be stadium.' Ten years later the stadium was finally built. It has been a long time coming and it will be an emotional and special night."
Kuipers left the Dutch Marines to pursue a professional football career at Bristol Rovers under Ian Holloway in 1999 before finding his way to Brighton.
"I hope that everyone will come on August 7 to share this special big game against a strong Premier League team a week before the start of the season. We're going to be inviting lots of legends from old teams."
His invite extends to fans of Crawley, where he has continued to enjoy success.
"I went to Brighton in 2000 and what a fantastic time I've had ever since.
"I got three promotions there and that was followed by Crawley, which has been really good as well," he said, reflecting that he had added back-to-back promotions at the Broadfield.
"I've really enjoyed playing in Sussex and this is my home now.
"To represent both Sussex clubs in the manner that I have done is something I'm very proud of.
"The Crawley fans have been terrific. To be able to raise the profile of both clubs is great."
He is also thankful Crawley, where he recently signed a new one-year deal, have allowed him to take the chance of the game.
"I'm going to be playing and coaching, so it's going to be a combined role. I'm still very fit and when I've been called upon I know I can do a good job for the manager.
"It's great that I can share my experience with other players. My objective is to make sure Crawley Town is going to be finishing in the highest position possible and I'm dedicated to making sure I can help fellow goalkeepers and players to get the most out of their games."
Tickets, priced £15 for adults, £12 for over-65s and £6 for U16s, will be available from July 1.