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Nigeria defender makes winning start as Brighton beat Man U

WINNING START: Leon Balogun

NIGERIA STAR Leon Balogun made a dream start to his Brighton career when the South Coast outfit beat Manchester United 3-2. It’s been an interesting few months for the centre-half with a World Cup tournament and a move to the Premier League.

After the disappointment of Nigeria’s last gasp World Cup exit, Balogun has been buoyed by a move to England. Balogun, who made his debut for Chris Hughton’s side when he came on as a 20th minute substitute for Lewis Dunk, was unfazed as he faced up to Jose Mourinho’s stellar cast.

The Nigerian was to play a major role as Hughton’s men pulled off the shock of the season so far and at the same time has now fulfilled a long-held of playing arguably the best league in the world. “I have always had the dream of playing in the Premier League,” he confessed. “When Brighton expressed an interest in me, I was delighted to sign.

“I’ve always followed English football from home in Germany, and I was aware of Brighton’s journey - from their days in the Championship and their promotion, through to last season in the Premier League, and I like the way they play football.

“The way the team was able to maintain its position in the Premier League was impressive. They liked to play football and they had a clear position from the manager, a very clear philosophy of the way he wants the team to perform, and that is what really impressed me.”

The Nigerian also spoke of his pride at his team’s World Cup journey. Balogun, who joined Premier League Brighton in the close season from Mainz 05 II, is raring to go despite the bitter disappointment of being eliminated by Lionel Messi’s Argentina in the pivotal final group fixture.

German-born Balogun said: “It was a very good experience but looking back, we needed to be more cold-blooded, that was the most important lesson learned. We had one victory (against Iceland) but it’s important for the national team now to keep making progress.

“We have a mix of experienced and young players, talented players, and there are some still players to break through, so it’s important we keep developing them and investing in their football education. If we keep working hard and stay focused, then we will have a good team ready for the next World Cup - maybe an even better one than we have now.”

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