Jason Steele is delighted to have committed his future to the club and a coach whom he says has revitalised his career.
Albion’s goalkeeper has signed a new contract until June 2025, having seen the club progress quickly in the four months since head coach Roberto De Zerbi’s arrival.
“I am 32 now and when you go out on the grass with Roberto you feel 21 again, you feel alive - that’s the best way I can describe it,” said Steele.
“Roberto and I had a chat a couple of weeks ago and I told him I wanted to be here and he wanted me here as well. I want to be a part of what he’s building.
“It’s been incredible to work under him. The way he sees football and the way he wants his team to play, it’s how we all wanted to play football growing up.
“It’s what you see at the top, top level. We’ve seen what he wants to build, he’s absolutely brilliant. We’ve got to keep improving under him, listening and learning.
“I can’t stand here and say ‘Brighton are going to win the Premier League’, but as a club we aim to keep getting better day-by-day, game-by-game, year-by-year.
“With him the mentality is to be at the top, top level and you’ve got to show him that you want to be a part of it through your application. Then hopefully he will take you with him, because there’s only one way he’s going.”
Jason has made 13 appearances for Albion and has typically played a backup role to both Maty Ryan and Robert Sanchez during the last four-and-a-half years, but his aim has always been to be first choice.
“If I was content being a second-choice goalkeeper the club wouldn’t have offered me another contract as that’s not the way the club is going, it’s not the way Roberto works.
“You don’t want people who are happy not playing, it’s not what he wants either. He wants players who take his ideas on board and can show their intentions.
“You can say that I am the second-choice goalkeeper, but I’ve got to have the mentality that I am pushing every day to be the first choice.”
The former Middlesbrough and Blackburn Rovers keeper will hit the five-year anniversary at Albion this summer, joining after Sunderland slipped into League One following successive relegations.
“It was a very tough period for me, but I learned a hell of a lot about myself, that I was a lot stronger than I thought and I came here for a fresh start. I used the first two years, with the help of [former goalkeeping coach] Ben Roberts, who was absolutely massive for me and still is, really well. I got myself into the best shape I have ever been, mentally and physically.
“That allowed me to perform to the level I knew I could perform at.”