Three underrated stars behind Brighton’s promotion

For the first time since 1983, Brighton & Hove Albion will be back in the top flight of English football. The Seagulls finished last season second in the Championship, well above third but only one point behind first-placed Newcastle United.

Much has been said about the team’s star players, but many of the team’s stars haven’t been given the credit that they deserve for playing a pivotal role in the Brighton’s promotion season, especially in their stellar defence.

Shane Duffy
jamesboyes
Lewes 0 BHA 0 18 July 2015-199′ – James Boyes via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Brighton’s campaign was built on a sturdy defence and great goalkeeping, which led to them having the joint-least goals against count in the Championship – tied with Newcastle – and Shane Duffy was a huge part of that.

Lining up alongside fellow 25-year-old centre-back Lewis Dunk, Duffy implemented his strong tackling, willingness to block shots, and ability to clear the ball from the danger zone to help forge the brick wall that was the Brighton defence.

However, John Terry is set to be on the market next season, and Brighton are one of the favourites to sign him at 7/1 with Paddy Power, which could potentially result in fewer games for Duffy.

Steve Sidwell
Given his level of experience, it’s no wonder that Sidwell, now 34 years old, has a complete grasp on the role of defensive midfielder, performing his duties and not being concerned with personal glory by way of scoring goals.

However, the one goal he did score this season was really something special:

From defensive midfield, Sidwell was one of Brighton’s most influential players, clocking in the most tackles per game as well as the third most interceptions, tenth most clearances, third most dribbles, fifth most blocks, and he recorded an average of 28.9 passes per game. He was the first line of defence and a key cog in Brighton moving from defence to attack.

Bruno
From the Catalonia municipality of El Masnou, Bruno came to Brighton in the summer of 2012, and this season he was named the team’s captain. Despite being the second oldest player in the squad at 36 years old, Bruno worked harder than anyone else on the pitch, leading by example.

This season, starting at centre back but playing at right back for the majority of the campaign, Bruno played 42 Championship games, getting his name on five assists in the process. What’s more is that each of these five assists not only came at home but were also pivotal in each game.

Two of his assists came on equalising goals in games which ended as draws, two more came on opening goals in games which Brighton kept a clean sheet – thus being the decisive goal – and his last assist came on the opening goal of a 3-1 win over Birmingham City.

Bruno’s tenacious tackling, poise on the ball, and sometimes acrobatic defending helped to solidify Brighton’s defence and create attacking opportunities. The diminutive Spaniard was named in the PFA Championship Team of the Year and Brighton had him on their shortlist for Player of the Season, and yet he cannot be given enough credit for his impact on the team this season.

Brighton earned promotion through their inspired team play, and they all deserve the world of credit for their achievement. These three stood out beside the more recognised stars as being pivotal to the team’s success.

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