The Football League Paper - - NEWS - By Dan Barnes

DALE Stephens says he first signed for Brighton with the ex­press aim of play­ing in the Pre­mier League – and he’s de­lighted that dream is set to be­come a re­al­ity.

The 27-year-old mid­fielder has signed a new four-year con­tract with the Seag­ulls af­ter help­ing them to a sec­ond-place fin­ish in the Cham­pi­onship and pro­mo­tion to the top flight for the first time since 1983.

Stephens ini­tially joined Brighton from Charl­ton in Jan­uary 2014.

He in­sists that help­ing to bring Pre­mier League foot­ball to Sus­sex was on his mind from the off.

“I came to this foot­ball club ex­pect­ing to get pro­moted in the first few years,” said Stephens, who made 39 ap­pear­ances for the Seag­ulls this term, scor­ing two goals.

“It’s taken a bit longer than I would’ve thought, but here we are as a Pre­mier League side and I want to be a part of that and achieve things here.

“Once we found out we were go­ing to play our foot­ball in the Pre­mier League next sea­son, it wasn’t a case of me mov­ing on.

“I re­alised I could achieve what I wanted to here, and I am very much look­ing for­ward to next sea­son.”

Stephens added: “We know it’s go­ing to be tough and I think the tar­get next sea­son will be to stay in the Pre­mier League.

“We’ll all be look­ing for­ward to it and can’t wait to get started.

“I don’t think it will hit home prop­erly un­til we do see the fixtures.

“I know it’s done and dusted and the sea­son has fin­ished, but when you see the games com­ing up that’s when you see we are a Pre­mier League side.

“We’re go­ing to en­joy it and it will be nice to get one of the big teams at home first up.”

EX­CITED: Dale Stephens

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