English-born Ghanaian defender Tariq Lamptey has named Senegalese forward Sadio Mane in a special list of players he admired before playing against them in the Premier League.
Lamptey has been one of the standout breakout stars of the season, before his unfortunate injury ruled him out of the rest campaign.
Despite being on the sidelines for months, the 20-year-old reminisces how went from being a fan of some stars in the league to becoming their opponents, describing the feeling as surreal.
“It’s difficult to pick my most difficult opponent, I have enjoyed the different challenges. Paul Pogba, Sadio Mane, N’Golo Kante, there are so many. You go from two or three years ago watching these guys on TV to being on the same pitch as them, it’s a surreal feeling,” he told the club’s website.
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“When you’re walking out on the pitch, you know you’ve put in the work and deserve to be there. I was waiting for the chance so when you go up against those players you’re in the zone and want to get the best result possible. Nerves don’t come into it, I want to play with energy and fearlessness,” he added.
Although he has enjoyed a good start to his career at Brighton, the player with Ghanaian parents admits playing in the English Premier League requires a lot of hard work.
“It’s definitely not easy playing in the Premier League, but I demand a lot of myself and that starts in training. You put the most into it and then you try to improve and do even better,” admitted Lamptey.
“When you come into the game you’re ready to get the best out of yourself. You don’t have time to think ‘I haven’t played at this level’, you’ve worked for it your whole life and I try to enjoy the experience.”