English-born Colombian midfielder Steven Alzate has admitted that he is shocked at how his career at Brighton & Hove Albion has accelerated in the space of twelve months.
Alzate suffered a stress fracture in his back over a year ago and during that time he was with League Two club Swindon Town on a loan spell and the injury led him to be on the sidelines for the rest of the season.
Twelve months later, the 21-year-old's form is at its peak and he is now a regular feature in the Premier League tea, following his maiden debut in September 2019 - he has also played two international games for Colombia whom he chose to pledge his allegiance to.
“I’m a little bit surprised at the amount of game time I’ve had but it’s good that the manager has faith in me and it has given me an extra boost of confidence,” he told the club's official website.
Brighton manager Graham Potter, his backroom staff and fans alike have been impressed with a youngster who has put on some great performances in front of packed audiences like Old Trafford, the Emirates and the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium - and they believe there is more to come from Alzate.
“After a few games, you start getting a bit more confident. Obviously, there are still nerves before a match but the more you play you get used to it.
“Before the game you know you are going to come up against world-class players but once the whistle goes you have just got to treat it as a normal match and the opponents as normal players, you can’t think of them as superstars. I don’t get worried by this. I just concentrate on the game itself.
“There have been quite a few big stadiums I have played at, but my favourite would have to be the Emirates because Arsenal was the team I supported as a child – and we won, that was one of the best nights of my career.”
Alzate who has made 17 Premier League appearances including 12 stars so far has been applauded for his versatility considering the fact that he plays as a midfielder but has recently been put at right-back and his quality has proven that he can adapt to any challenge.
“I’m a midfielder, but the manager knows I can play in a lot of positions. As long as I am playing, I will play anywhere but in the long run I’d like to be in as a midfielder. But I don’t mind going even at left-back - I will always do a shift for the team.
"It’s a very physical league, probably more than I expected. But the loan helped me to get ready. It was League 2 but it’s men’s football and quite physical as well."
“The coaches have to manage me, it’s my first season in the Premier League and I can’t be expected to play in every game.
“I would like to be involved in as many as possible, but I know there are some games when I might not start or come off the bench. You have to be mentally prepared for that.
"The best thing I can do is train hard every day and give myself the best possible chance of playing in the team.”