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Gus Poyet Exclusive: Dunk Flying With The Seagulls

Gus Poyet Exclusive: Dunk Flying With The Seagulls

Lewis Dunk has been integral to Brighton’s rise up the table – and no one has been happier to witness his success than one-time Seagulls’ boss Gus Poyet. The South Coast side’s former manager handed Dunk his professional debut back in May 2010, selecting him in an away clash with MK Dons. It was an end-of-season affair between two League One sides with nothing to play for – the only memorable moment being a brawl that saw both sides reduced to ten men. But for Brighton captain Dunk, it was the start of a hugely successful career with the East Sussex outfit. And Poyet believes the experienced centre-back is worthy of legend status at the Amex.


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Legendary Status

Speaking exclusively to Genting, he said: “If he (Dunk) stays at Brighton forever, he’s going to be a legend over there, for sure. 

“A one-club player, it’s very difficult to achieve, but maybe Dunk is going to be one.

“I call him ‘Dunky’, and for me, he’s still ‘Dunky’, even if he’s just turned 30 because he was so young when I was there. 

“We knew he had the quality for the way that we wanted to play, he was very calm on the ball and he knew the angles, he knew how to play. 

“I went to see him – I don’t want to exaggerate it, but probably 15 times in the reserves on Monday night – in the old reserves – Monday night football, just seeing how he was developing, with a view to the possibility of him playing for the first team. 

“Watching those games, he confirmed everything that we felt about it.”

Early Struggles

Poyet continued to use Dunk sparingly during his teenage years, but the Brighton native enjoyed a breakout campaign in 2011-12 – the Seagulls’ first year back in the Championship.

However, the following season would be Poyet’s last – despite the club reaching the play-off semi-finals – and Dunk struggled for minutes ahead of Matthew Upson and Adam El-Abd.

But the Uruguayan manager has praised the England international’s determination to raise his standards, which has no doubt helped him on his journey to the Premier League. 

“After I left, he has kept improving, it’s a credit to him,” he explained. 

“In the beginning, we tried to help him become a presence in both boxes; defending and attacking. 

“He has dramatically improved this part of his game, defending his own box and being an important part of the offensive set plays in the other box. 

“I’m very pleased for him, every time I watch Brighton, he’s the first player I look at.”

Domestic Trophy Within Reach

The Seagulls currently sit in ninth place, just one point shy of a European spot, but Poyet believes that a domestic trophy should not be ruled out this term.

After all, the FA Cup presents a real chance of securing silverware for Graham Potter’s side, who reached the semi-finals under Chris Hughton in 2019.

“Brighton may have an opportunity in the FA Cup, when you find yourself in a good position, you start paying attention,” Poyet said. 

“I’m sure that after a few years, Brighton will always finish in the top half of the league. 

“They need to concentrate on what they’re doing, they’re doing a terrific job. 

“Potter is doing very well, he’s perfect for the team, for the club.  

“Knowing the board well, I can see Potter as a manager Brighton would like to keep forever. 

“Time will tell if they can win trophies, I think they are comfortable now. 

“I don’t think there is any risk they will get relegated, which is great for everyone related to Brighton, they can relax and play their best football.”

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