Belfast Telegraph

Knockaert relishing second chance in Premier League thanks to Brighton promotion

Anthony Knockaert is relishing a second crack at the Premier League after helping Brighton end their 34-year exile from the top flight.

The French playmaker has been instrumental in the Seagulls' success this campaign, scoring 15 times and being named the Sky Bet Championship player of the year.

It is the second time in three years that Knockaert has won promotion from the second tier, although his achievement with Leicester in 2014 was subsequently dampened when he was restricted to just three league starts the following season before being sold.

The 25-year-old said he is delighted to be back in England's top division.

"It's amazing and a great feeling," he told Brighton's official website. "When you're a child, you dream about this.

"We're going to be there next season and we'll enjoy it.

"What a day for everyone at this football club. If anyone deserves it, it's this football club. I'm so buzzing for them."

After leaving the Foxes in the summer of 2015, Knockaert spent seven months in Belgium with Standard Liege before being brought back to England by Albion boss Chris Hughton.

His aim then was to lead the club to the Premier League and - after the disappointment of narrowly missing automatic promotion followed by play-off failure in his first season - he finally achieved his goal on Easter Monday when Brighton beat Wigan and third-placed Huddersfield could only draw at Derby.

Knockaert was particularly pleased for the Sussex club's supporters, who flooded the Amex Stadium pitch at the end of the Latics match to celebrate a return to the top flight for the first time since 1983.

"I was buzzing and all the fans were coming up to me," he added. "It was a long way to the dressing room and it was a really nice feeling and everyone was over the moon.

"It was an ambition and challenge for me, and they told me straight away that it was the club's ambition to reach the Premier League.

"It was amazing and all of the people involved in this football club deserve it."

Albion currently have a seven-point lead over second-placed Newcastle after their title rivals lost 3-1 at Ipswich on Monday.

Hughton's men need just one win from their final three games to be crowned champions - starting at Norwich on Friday, followed by clashes with Bristol City and Aston Villa.

Knockaert believes it is important for the Seagulls to finish top of the table.

"It would be amazing for us (winning the title), we're one win away and we'll try everything to do it on Friday, and if not Friday, we'll try and do it against Bristol City at home," he said

"Some players never get memories like this in their career, so it's amazing for us."

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