Brighton & Hove Albion midfielder Anthony Knockaert paid an emotional tribute to the club’s support of him in recent seasons following Sunday’s Players' Awards at the Amex Stadium.
The Frenchman picked up the Goal of the Season award and dedicated it to Fan of the Season Sam Harwood after watching his video on the night, and Knockaert opened up about his affiliation with the club following a tough few weeks.
He said, “When I came here in the first year everything was normal, but then my Dad passed away and since then they have been incredible – it’s a real family club which I’ll never forget.
“This will always be the main club in my life no matter what my career holds in the future, I will not find a better club than this. They’ve done so much for me, it will always remain a great club that did everything to make me happy.
“My family have talked to me a lot recently, especially my uncle who’s like a second dad to me, and my brother - we talk every day together and my family know me better than anyone, I can talk to them about anything.
“They told me to keep my head up and keep working hard – they’ve always believed in me and that’s what they’re for, it’s been a tough time over the last few weeks, after the Cardiff City game I really struggled, I was at the stadium to support the team, but I was really nervous watching on.
“I didn’t sleep much that night after the game, I was thinking about what might happen, I care so much about this club and the people for what they’ve done for me after what I’ve been through.”
The midfielder had been serving a three-game ban following a red card against AFC Bournemouth at the Amex last month, and he openly reflected on the past few weeks.
“It’s been really tough for me and I’ve been feeling very down not being able to help the team at such an important stage of the season,” he continued.
“It began to feel like if the team were to go down I would have played a big part in it and that it was my fault – that would have been sad because I always give my best and do everything for this club.
“But the point against Newcastle on Saturday gave us all a confidence boost and it could be the little push we needed to get us over the line – we deserve it because this club belongs in the Premier League.”
Knockaert also reflected on the campaign as a whole, with two games left to play against Arsenal and Manchester City, and believes parallels can be drawn between the side’s two Premier League seasons to date.
“It’s been a really tough season, but if you look back at the last campaign it’s pretty much exactly the same in terms of still having survival to seal with a few matches left.
“We were in exactly the same position last year, we’ve done it in reverse though – last year we didn’t start well and improved.
“Whereas this campaign we started really well up until December and then it got tough. It’s been tough for the fans but what we need to realise is that it’s always difficult in this division.”