Rapid rise for Eng­land’s lat­est young star

The Football League Paper - - NEWS - By Joshua Richards

PLAY­ING for Eng­land and firmly fo­cused on pro­mo­tion to the Premier League, Solly March has come a long way since turn­ing out for Non-League Lewes.

But the Brighton winger is still just 21 and in no doubt that the peak of his pow­ers is still some way off.

It has been a rapid rise to the Cham­pi­onship sum­mit for March, who joined Brighton from their Ry­man League neigh­bours as a 17year-old four years ago this month.

Seag­ulls’ young player of the year in 2013 and now a key cog in the side that sits near the top of the sec­ond tier – un­beaten in their last 17 league out­ings – March has al­ready de­vel­oped into an ex­cit­ing prospect.


That hasn’t gone un­no­ticed by Eng­land U21 man­ager Gareth South­gate, who handed him a start­ing berth in their 3-1 vic­tory over Switzer­land on Mon­day.

How­ever, the man him­self is con­fi­dent the up­ward curve won’t stop there – and his hum­ble beginnings are to thank for that.

“I’m catching up with peo­ple be­cause they have been in the pro­fes­sional game a lot longer,” said March.

“I’ve done well in that short pe­riod of time but I’ve got more years to learn things and get bet­ter.

“It is a bit of a weird thing. I was play­ing for Lewes just four years ago and at school. It has hap­pened quickly and I’m prob­a­bly a late de­vel­oper so I’ve still got plenty to of­fer and plenty of things to im­prove on.

“I think it gives you more mo­ti­va­tion, more drive and more pas­sion to get there be­cause you started lower.You ex­pe­ri­ence what it’s like to be in the lower leagues and when you get to the top level, you re­alise what you’ve be­come.

“I have been at the club for al­most four years now and a lot of things have hap­pened – I have gone through to the first team and now Eng­land. I just need to keep im­prov­ing and hope­fully I can get to the Premier League with Brighton – that would be the next thing.” Not only did this week bring March’s first Eng­land U21 start, but also in the fa­mil­iar set­ting of Brighton’s im­pres­sive Amex Sta­dium. “Know­ing the sur­round­ings and the chang­ing room, it prob­a­bly calmed the nerves a bit but it was still a weird ex­pe­ri­ence,” he added. “Some­times I was think­ing ‘Where’s the right-back for Brighton!’

“It prob­a­bly wasn’t my best game go­ing for­ward but that hap­pens some­times, es­pe­cially in in­ter­na­tional foot­ball.You have to adapt and hope­fully the more min­utes I get, the more ef­fec­tive I can be.

“I had fam­ily and friends in the crowd and I did ac­tu­ally see them when we were singing the an­them, but I tried not to make eye con­tact.”

How­ever, fo­cus now turns firmly back to the Seag­ulls as they seek to main­tain a pro­mo­tion push through the busy win­ter sched­ule.

This turn of events with Brighton may not have occurred at all though, March hav­ing re­ceived an ap­proach from Premier League side New­cas­tle United as a teenager.


But the lure of play­ing close to home was too strong and, four years on, it is a choice on which the young­ster can look back and af­ford to be pleased.

“It prob­a­bly was the right de­ci­sion to start at a lower level be­cause you are go­ing to get more chances – that was the think­ing be­hind it,” he added.

“When you are play­ing, you’re happy – when you’re not, you’re not so happy. You’ve got to try and keep play­ing well to keep your place. It’s hard work but that’s what it’s all about.

“My aim this sea­son was to get more game time – score goals, get as­sists – and es­pe­cially in the last four or five games I played, I have been do­ing that.

“I just want to keep my lev­els up and keep play­ing well.”

PIC­TURE: Ac­tion Im­ages

PROSPECT: Brighton’s Solly March SWISS ROLE: Brighton’s Solly March earned a start for Eng­land U21s against Switzer­land this week

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