Jason Steele praises two talented young Brighton defenders after Cardiff victory
The pride from goalkeeper Jason Steele clearly evident as a he captained a youthful Albion to their Carabao Cup second round victory at Championship outfit Cardiff on Tuesday night.
Steele, 31, was the eldest player on the pitch by some margin as first half goals from Jakub Moder and Andi Zeqiri sealed a 2-0 triumph for Graham Potter’s team.
Under 23s Marc Leonard, 19, and Antef Tsoungui, 18, both made their first competitive starts for Albion, while teenagers Andrew Moran and Odel Offiah made their debuts from the bench midway through the second half. 16-year-old Evan Ferguson also made his first outing as an 81st minute replacement for Enock Mwepu.
“It was a very special,” said Steele. “First and foremost, I was honoured to be captain tonight and when the manager told me it was a massive honour for me.
“To lead the lads tonight, and how they performed was so good, and there has to be a lot of proud families and people in the club of some of the young boys who played tonight.”
What impressed Steele the most was the skill and courage the younger players displayed against an experienced and physical Cardiff team who are unbeaten in the Championship so far this season.
“It shows the structure we have in terms of how the manager wants us to play. It’s so clear that the lads who come in know their jobs and what they have to do.
“They were so brave in how they played, and there were times when it was impossible to build from the back and find the spare man, but they showed so much character to deal with it.
“We fought like dogs, and we made some great chances, and on another night, we could have scored more.”
Steele also had words of praise for centre-backs Tsoungui and Haydon Roberts, who made 25 appearances while on loan at Rochdale last season.
Absolutely incredible,” said the former Sunderland goalkeeper. “I have played with the pair of them before, so I did not have one concern going into the game. I knew they would be fine.
“I am so proud of them to come here and play against two international strikers in James Collins and Keifer Moore they dealt with it so well, and they looked really assured to me.”
It was also important for Steele to get game time as well as the keepers last outing was the FA Cup tie at Newport in January last season when he saved three penalties in the shootout victory.
“I was pleased to play, I just love football, I work really hard. The manager sets his team up plays to my strengths, in terms of playing out from the back and trying to be comfortable on the ball.
“There are times when it doesn’t work, and the keeper gets punished, but when the manager doesn’t hold anyone accountable, that gives you so much self-confidence and allows you to play what you see and to be comfortable and natural.
“When you go onto a football pitch, and you are playing sub-consciously, there is no better feeling. I feel like I have that here, and it plays to my strengths.”