Former Rovers midfielder Hope Akpan has landed himself a new club – almost a year since his last appearance.

Akpan has signed for Finnish top-flight club SJK, his deal announced on Monday after a completing his medical following a period of quarantine, and the requirement to provide negative Covid-19 tests.

Still only 29, Akpan was released by League Two side Bradford City after two years and 54 appearances for the Bantams, his spell cut short by the coronavirus pandemic, with his last appearance coming just before lockdown on February 29.

Discussions over a move to Finland began in the autumn, and he has been in the country since last month, but the details of the move, and his medical, have now been finalised, with Akpan to join up with his team-mates this week.

It will be a first taste of football outside England for Akpan who has played for Everton, Hull City, Crawley Town, Reading, Rovers and Burton Albion before signing for Bradford in 2018.

His two years at Rovers, between 2015 and 2017, saw him play 66 times, only to be released after the club were related from the Championship. While Rovers went down into League One, Akpan stayed in the Championship to have a season with Burton, before his switch to Bradford in 2018.

After signing with SJK, who finished seventh in the Finnish top flight last season, Akpan said: “We started discussions already in the autumn, when the season was coming to an end in Finland. 

“But I felt that this is a new and interesting challenge for me and my family; move to a whole new country and play in a new series. It gives me a whole new kind of energy and enthusiasm.

“I want to play good football on the main league team, and with SJK this will happen. I've also talked a lot with the club's head coach objectives, as well as the mode of playing, and I believe that this is the right step in my career. 

“Here we have the opportunity to win something together and perhaps get to play in Europe. I'm really happy and excited about this transfer.”


Akpan spent two years at Rovers, but played under four different managers, having been signed by Gary Bowyer in 2015, and then going onto work with Paul Lambert and Owen Coyle before the appointment of Tony Mowbray in February 2017.

He played 37 times in his first season at the club, and 29 in his second when he missed four matches following a red card for pushing referee Scott Duncan after seeing a goal disallowed in the defeat to Sheffield Wednesday in February 2017 in what proved to be Coyle’s last league game in charge.

Bowyer signed him again while at Bradford, in 2018, and he played 54 times before his release in the summer.