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De Zerbi hails ‘incredible’ Brighton for European qualification – Sport Grill

(Image: Paul Hazlewood)

Brighton boss Roberto de Zerbi has described his Seagulls as “incredible” for European qualification.

Two first-half goals from Evan Ferguson and Pascal Gross in the 69th minute gave Brighton a comfortable home win over Southampton that ultimately sealed European qualification for the Seagulls, now out of reach of eighth-placed Tottenham Hotspur.

The success marked the first time Brighton have qualified for UEFA competition and reflecting on the achievement, De Zerby commented: “It’s unbelievable. One of the best days of my career and I’m really proud to be the coach of this club with these players and these fans. We will not be together.

“I can’t explain my emotions, but I can say that my players are of a very high level, they are fantastic players and fantastic people. They deserve to qualify for Europe.”

De Zerbi went on to admit that, having replaced Graham Potter in mid-September, he did not believe European qualification could be achieved until mid-February following a 1-1 draw with Crystal Palace.

Explaining why that match in particular made him believe their historic achievement was possible despite their torrid run, the Italian said: Champions League.

“We didn’t win the game, but my players were very sad in the dressing room. I talked with them after the game, and that’s when I understood the character of my players.

“We played 14 games in April and May and had a very difficult period and lost a lot of players to injuries, but when you have something inside, you push yourself towards your goal.”

“Ferguson’s improvement has been incredible,” continued De Zerby as he turned his attention to the 18-year-old’s recent exploits, which have seen the Ireland striker score 10 goals in all competitions this season with two games remaining in the Seagulls’ campaign.

Praising Ferguson’s attitude and how he and other young players benefited from the experienced players, De Zerby concluded: “He plays like an old player, but he’s only 18 years old.

“There’s a good dressing room to help mentally with all our young players, Gilmour, Colville, Enciso and Buonanote; we are a very strong team.”

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