Steven Alzate says the senior players in the Albion dressing room have been integral to his progress during his debut Premier League campaign.
The Columbia international made 22 appearances before having an operation and he has recently committed his future to the club until 2024.
Alzate said, “At first as a young kid you are quite shy and you don’t want to talk too much. You are just admiring the other first team players in the dressing room. After a while you get used to the environment and you become friends with people, it becomes your normal day-to-day life.
“When I first started training Lewis Dunk, Glenn Murray and Maty Ryan were all very encouraging – they are the senior pros which a dressing room always needs.
“After a while, once you feel that it’s an environment you belong in, you just feel part of the team.
“That has helped me kick on when I step on the pitch. You’ve always got to feel comfortable where you are and team morale is very important, everyone needs to get along. The fact that everyone at Brighton is really friendly is a massive plus and has helped me kick on.”
Having tried to manage the groin injury he suffered just before lockdown, he had surgery last month but hopes to be fit for pre-season training.
He added, “I missed quite a lot of football because of the injury – I was still training, but I wasn’t up to 100% and it got to a point where I was in too much pain and I had to have the operation.
“I got it done at the right time though because I should be ready for pre-season which is crucial, as it sets you up for the rest of the season nicely. Hopefully I can kick on again.”
Looking back on his breakthrough campaign, Alzate feels that he has adjusted well but knows he needs to continue his improvement to maintain his place in the first team squad.
“The Premier League is the best league in the world: the standard, the tempo, the intensity, everything is so quick. I feel like I have managed it quite well but I want to keep improving.”