Albion spurred on by bottler claims - Stockdale

David Stockdale. Picture by Phil Westlake (PW Sporting Photography)
David Stockdale. Picture by Phil Westlake (PW Sporting Photography)

Goalkeeper David Stockdale said being called bottlers spurred Brighton on to promotion.

The club had lost in the Championship play-offs in three of the past four seasons but sealed a return to the top flight of English football - for the first time in 34 years - on Monday.

Brighton finished last season on a 14-game unbeaten run, with nine wins, but that did not stop fans of many clubs saying the Seagulls 'bottled it' after failing to go up again.

Huddersfield boss David Wagner also piled the pressure on Albion in early March when he said: “I have heard they have struggled in the past at the end of the season and nobody knows why. But from my point of view my squad is very excited and happy in the dressing room at the moment.”

Since then, Brighton have won seven of their last eight games - including five in a row - to clinch promotion and they are also strong favourites to lift the Championship title.

That left Stockdale to say: "It just spurs us on being called bottlers, who's bottling it now? Not us, we're an incredible group of players, incredible staff, and are incredible from the chairman down, so don't write us off.

"We said in the huddle before the game, forget about promotion, let's win the title.

"I said it before QPR as well, our dream is to be champions so let's make it happen.

"We came back after an international break when people were doubting us and saying we were going to bottle it again, so to them 'you're welcome'."

As for the rest of the season, Stockdale wants to lift the title: "Let's make it six, seven, eight wins on the spin and reach 100 points now.

"There's boundaries and then there's putting smiles on a lot of people's faces for a lot of months before we go into the Premier League and a different type of fight."

Stockdale was also full of praise for his team-mates and said: "We've talked about our character all the way through the season and people kept writing us off.

"They were writing us off against Newcastle but no matter what is writen about us, you still can't break that bond and it showed again today.

"We're all in there together. I can't keep going because there's too many superlatives to describe this group of people but it's one of the best dressing rooms I've ever been in."

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