It was a new beginning for player and club alike when Craig Mackail-Smith joined Albion in 2011.
The club were kicking off life at the Amex Stadium, giving the striker who’d signed from Peterborough United with the seemingly perfect chance to hit the ground running.
Speaking on My Albion Audio, the former striker covered a range of topics, not least his time at the Seagulls.
“Everything was new, and you could feel that the club wanted to go to another level,” reflected Mackail-Smith.
“The club wanted to get into the Premier League given the infrastructure was now in place. It felt like the club was going in the right direction.”
Mackail-Smith was 27 when he signed a four-year deal with Brighton, having scored 35 times for his former employers, who had also been promoted to the Championship alongside the Seagulls.
“It was the right time to leave Peterborough – I’d had offers during the season, but the club didn’t want me to leave because we were on such a good run,” he said.
“After we’d won the play-off final, I felt like it was time for a new challenge. Brighton came in and I saw the ambition of the club and what they wanted to achieve – it felt the right time in my career.”
His first game for the club was a memorable occasion as Albion hosted Doncaster Rovers and came from behind to win 2-1.
“It was a huge occasion and the club had obviously had to do a lot to get to that point – they felt like they had a home and you felt that with the emotion in the stadium,” he added.
“Stepping out onto the field the atmosphere was electric and for me to have that match as my debut for the club was something really special.
“It was an honour and to finish the game in the way we did and win it 2-1 was fitting and a nice way to start the season.”
When asked about what he’d have liked to have done differently in his career, the 36-year-old – who scored 24 goals from 87 starts with the Seagulls, was honest about how differently he would have dealt with setbacks and injuries.
“I wish I believed in myself and loved myself more – I put myself down too much during periods in my career, especially because I’d arrived at Brighton with a big price tag.
“I wasn’t achieving what I probably had expected, although I started the season well. I would down talk myself instead of reassuring myself.
“I highlighted the negatives when I should have been building myself up more. If I’d have talked to myself better, I probably would have achieved more at Brighton.”
Fans can listen to the full interview with Mackail-Smith, as well as a host of other great Albion podcasts below.