Jeremy Sarmiento's career so far

The young winger talks us through his journey in the game so far.

By Luke Nicoli • 07 March 2022

By Paul Hazlewood
Jeremy Sarmiento spoke about his career so far in his interview for the matchday programme against Aston Villa.

Madrid. London. Lisbon. Brighton… Spain. England. Ecuador. Jeremy Sarmiento has already been on some journey to pursue his football dream and he’s only 19 years of age! Having penned a new contract recently with the Seagulls until the summer of 2026, what better time to catch up with the promising midfielder, who tells the matchday programme about his unusual, albeit quickfire, path to the Premier League.

Born in Madrid to Ecuadorian parents, you ended up in Charlton’s academy. How did that happen?

My family moved here for work, to learn the language, the culture, and the plan was to go back to Spain eventually. However, I started to get into football, played for a couple of Sunday league teams and that’s when Charlton Athletic picked me up. They had been watching me for a while and from the 30 players who went there on trial, I was the only one given a three-year contract. I joined the club at the age of 12 and that’s when my career started to take off and I started to develop as a player.

Charlton have a decent academy, right?

It was a good set-up. Their academy has produced a number of players, including Joe Gomez, Ademola Lookman and Jonjo Shelvey, so the pathway was there. However, with my contract coming to an end, Benfica had been watching me throughout my final season and were really keen to sign me. Obviously Benfica are a huge club, a Champions League regular, so I decided to go there. It was a really good experience; the set-up was so different to what I had been used to and the facilities were fantastic. I arrived at the age of 15 and was playing UEFA Youth League games, which was something I wouldn’t have got at Charlton. The club also has a tradition of producing many players for the first team. I picked up the language, the playing style, and my family came with me, so overall it was the correct decision at that stage of my career.

Did you get a sniff of first team action?

At the time, the coach was Rui Vitoria and he liked the academy players coming through. He gave me the chance to train with the first team on a number of occasions but then he got sacked and after that I didn’t get any further opportunities with them. In fact, my final year with the club was hard. I didn’t renew my contract, so I wasn’t playing, and it was quite difficult. I also picked up a couple of injuries, so it was just a case of waiting for my contract to run out.

How did the move to Brighton come about?

By Paul Hazlewood
Jeremy Sarmiento joined Albion in July 2021 from Benfica.

When it became clear I wasn’t going to renew my contract, Brighton showed an interest and I was really impressed with the set-up at the club. I really wanted to join and was hoping to move in January. Sadly, that didn’t happen so I had to wait until the summer, but once I signed, I was so happy, so relieved, and the club gave me so much confidence. Having missed out on a year’s football, it can be hard to get back into the rhythm of playing, but the club set out a plan for me from day one and it’s really gone well.

It wasn’t long before you were training with the first team, right?

Before I joined, I was told I had this opportunity and now it was up to me. I knew I’d be starting with the under-23s but if I did well, then there was a chance I could join in the with the first team. I’ve since ended up training with the first team, week in, week out, and I’ve obviously made my professional debut this season, which I’m really, really proud of. Training with the first-team boys is something I was working towards from my first day here and to be among all these experienced players is really nice. They help me; they guide me through training and games, and have been really supportive.

And you made your debut in the Carabao Cup in September against Swansea...

By Paul Hazlewood
The winger made his professional debut for Albion in the Carabao Cup victory over Swansea City.

To be honest, I didn’t expect it to come so quickly. What got me there was my performances for the under-23s, where I felt I came in and did a good job for the team. That then gave me my opportunity with the first team and to step out onto the pitch for my professional debut, and at the Amex, was a great feeling. It was completely different to the under-23s; it was more physically demanding, I had to run more and I noticed the little things really matter.

Your first start came in the next round at Leicester. You made a mistake that helped restore City’s lead before half-time. It didn’t seem to affect you though...

It was very big game for me in front of a big crowd. Yes, towards the end of the first half was a bit difficult for me because I made that mistake, but that can happen in football. It was important for me to come back from that, to learn from it, and to keep going. At half-time, the manager and the boys were really, really supportive. They explained to me that these things happen and that it could have happened to anyone, but it wasn’t something that I needed to let get to me. I simply forgot about it and just went back out there for the second half and played my natural game.

You made your Premier League debut at the Amex. How good was that?

By Paul Hazlewood
Jeremy Sarmiento came on for the final ten minutes against Leeds United in November, marking his Premier League debut.

It’s been a case of keeping my head down, keep working hard, and doing what I can to get more opportunities, but to come on against Leeds was amazing really. I’ve always dreamed of playing in the Premier League and to do it recently was a great achievement for me. We obviously had a sell-out crowd there that evening and I did feel kind of nervous but as you get on the pitch that just goes. The crowd was buzzing and that really motivated me whenever I got on the ball. I want to impressed them, the coaches, and help my team-mates out as much as possible. I only managed to get ten minutes but really wanted to show what I can do on the pitch and thought I did okay. I was buzzing afterwards, my family were buzzing and so as long as they’re happy, then I’m good!

You look like a player who likes to drive forward with the ball...

As winger I like to dribble, to keep the ball, and help drive the team forward. At Charlton at 15 they were putting me in a number of different positions. For example, I played at right-back, left- back, centre-midfield and on the wing, so I have that variety in my play. I can play out from the back, I can press, whatever the coach demands from me.

You played for England at youth level but have now become an Ecuador international. Why the change?

When I was at Charlton the club had a good connection with England and they came down to watch my games and were really impressed with how I was playing. I therefore decided to play for the team, the first country I’d played for, and was really happy to be representing England at that age. I was there until the under-19s before deciding to play for Ecuador. It was a really hard decision to make, but at the time I wasn’t playing at Benfica because of my [contract] situation, and so the England coach said he couldn’t pick me if I wasn’t playing for my club. The calls stopped and then, when I joined Brighton, Ecuador were really keen to get me included with the senior side. They were watching my games with the under-23s and after I made my first-team debut against Swansea, they called me up to the senior squad. My parents are obviously from Ecuador so that was also a big part in my decision – and they are proud I’ve made this choice.

You’ve played in three World Cup qualifiers, linking up with fellow Albion team-mate Moises Caicedo. Two Brighton players in the same Ecuador team!

I joke around with him and the rest of the squad by speaking English sometimes! He’s one of my best mates in the international squad. He’s obviously looking to come back and push for a first-team squad place after his loan and I’m sure he’s capable of doing that. He’s a really good player from what I’ve seen and from playing with him in the national team. He holds everything together in the middle – a great player.

After that frustrating injury on your first Premier League start at West Ham, you’re now on your way back, so what are your targets for club and country?

By Paul Hazlewood
The 19-year-old recently returned to training on the grass, having had hamstring surgery at the end of 2021.

The aim at Brighton is to keep impressing and keep getting more minutes under my belt. I’ll back myself in any situation so if I keep doing well, then hopefully I can play more games. The gaffer has told me to be myself, and repeat what I do in training in the games. The team is heading in the right direction and although we haven’t always got the results we would have wanted, we have real energy to keep pushing. For Ecuador, I started the last two games I played in, in what is a whole new set-up, with a mix of experienced players and quite a few youngsters. The coach spoke to me and said I’ve got the talent to come straight into the team and it’s great that he has such confidence in me. Hopefully I can repay him with my performances.