Brighton & Hove Albion defender Lewis Dunk believes the sides he used to be a part of made the club’s old Withdean Stadium a fortress that opposition teams were reluctant to visit.
Speaking to Sky Sports ahead of this afternoon’s televised game against Cardiff City in South Wales, the defender reflected on the time he spent at the Seagulls’ former home nostalgically.
He said, “Most of my memories are really from the youth team and watching the boys play out there.
“I used to sit down in the corner and on winter nights it was freezing, but the passion of the fans meant that it was still a good atmosphere.
“The supporters are what made it that bit special and nostalgic – it wasn’t easy for opposition teams to come here; the changing rooms were small and that’s all we had.
“We’d been out on the road for a number of years, but this was our base effectively and we always had a vision of where we wanted to get to as a club.
“Thankfully we’re there now but we got used to these surroundings at the time and made it a bit of a fortress – I used to speak to opposition players and they didn’t look forward to coming down here.”
Dunk was one of thousands of people who campaigned long and hard for the Amex Stadium, and the central defender insisted that the hard work over a number of years from everyone involved has been more than rewarded by where the club now finds itself in the Premier League.
“The club needed everyone to come together and do as much as they could to get to the ground – I got invited to the march and I was more than happy to go.
“I wanted to be where I am now – that was my vision and my dream – I remember walking along the seafront shouting ‘Falmer yes!’ and it’s paid off with the amazing ground we have now.
“If you’d have told me back in those Withdean days that I’d be where I am now then I wouldn’t have believed you.
“I would have always hoped and dreamt – but with where the club was at that time, I never thought that either myself or the club would be where we are today."
The 26-year-old’s second England call-up arrived on Thursday, with the Albion academy product included in Gareth Southgate’s squad for the matches against USA and Croatia respectively next week at Wembley Stadium.
It’s the second time in as many months that the centre half has been involved in the Three Lions set-up, and Dunk highlighted that winning his first cap in the near future would fulfil another childhood dream.
“I made a lot of sacrifices as a young boy, but it’s definitely made it all worth it.
“Playing in the Premier League was one of my dreams and that’s happened – now the next one for me is representing England, all I can do is keep working hard until that comes true.
“It will make all the hard work worth it, especially for someone like my dad who drove me up and down the country – it would make him the proudest father there is.”
Fans can watch the feature with Lewis Dunk on Sky Sports ahead of their live coverage of today's match against Cardiff City.