'My word' - Tariq Lamptey singled out after sublime skill torments Jack Grealish and Joao Cancelo
Sometimes with football players, you do not appreciate just how good they are until you see them live. When watching on television, you only see what the camera sees.
It can be a blinkered view to forming an opinion, whether that be because said player does such a supreme job off the ball, or because television cannot do justice to their pace or trickery.
Take Kalvin Phillips for example. When he was first summoned into Gareth Southgate’s England squad, I like many others thought that Southgate must have been hitting the Coors Light a little too hard.
Then I saw him in person as England marched through Croatia, Scotland, Czech Republic, Germany and Denmark at Wembley before that heat breaking penalty shoot out defeat to Italy.
Watch Phillips on TV playing for Leeds United and you only get half the picture. Witness him live and you understand just how good he is – and that Southgate’s decision was not based on an excessive amount of four per-cent alcohol beers.
The same goes for Declan Rice. West Ham United’s captain already looks impressive when you watch the Hammers or England on the box. He is even more so in real life.
You can understand why West Ham will demand and receive a massive fee for him from one of the biggest clubs in Europe in the not-too-distant future.
All of which brings us nicely onto Tariq Lamptey. Despite signing for Brighton in January 2020, the 4-1 defeat against Manchester City was the first time that Lamptey had played in front of a full home crowd in the Premier League.
A combination of lockdown followed by 10 months on the injury list meant that Lamptey had experienced only an empty Amex, or one with a couple of thousand people rattling around inside it.
For the majority of Albion supporters, the City game was the first time they will have witnessed Lamptey in the flesh. And my word, he is good. We already knew that, of course. When fit for the first third of 2020-21, Lamptey was one of the most talked-about young players in the Premier League.
Even Bayern Munich and Atletico Madrid were meant to be interested. Attracting those sorts of suitors when you play for a team pushing for European qualification is impressive enough; to do so in an Albion side battling relegation with only two wins on the board tells you all you need to know about how talented Lamptey is.
Which is why it came as such a surprise to discovered that he is even better when you watch him in a stadium. TV barely captures his speed, agility or skill level – as Jack Grealish and Joao Cancelo found out.
Two City players who were purchased for a combined £160 million – nearly twice as much as the Amex cost to build – were made to look very silly by Lamptey in one mesmerising second half moment.
Grealish thought he had shown Lamptey down a dead end. It certainly appeared like Brighton’s number 2 had nowhere to go, stuck out on the right-hand touchline with the most expensive player in British football history blocking his path to goal.
Lamptey though found a way out of it, twisting this way and that to escape Grealish. Realising his expensive team mate was about to be made to look very silly, Cancelo appeared on the scene, only for Lamptey to skip away from him too.
From a hopeless place, Lamptey now found himself in a dangerous position to cross into the box. Ederson in the City goal was not troubled by the end of the move but that did not prevent Lamptey being the recipient of a standing ovation.
The way that Lamptey conjured up the magic to create something from nothing was Vicente-esque. Praise does not come much higher for a Brighton attacking midfielder than comparisons to the The Dagger, let alone a right back.
City knew that Lamptey posed a special kind of threat too. Before Grealish and Cancelo were led on their merry dance, the Portuguese defender had hit Lamptey with a crunching foul which left Lamptey on the deck and Cancelo as the recipient of a Kevin Friend yellow card
Given all his injury problems, there was something of a collective gasp when Lamptey landed in a heap. Lamptey was soon back on his feet thank the Lord, not willing to let such rough tactics hardly in keeping with how we are told Pep Guardiola teams play floor him.
Lamptey’s introduction – and that of Enock Mwepu – helped Brighton dominate the final 30 minutes against the champions. The game was already done by that point thanks to City’s blistering opening half hour in which they scored three times.
They were still suitably worried by the Albion being on top however to start time wasting, culminating in a booking for Ederson. Arguably the finest team English football has ever seen resorting to such measures against little old Brighton. Call it the Lamptey effect.
If Lamptey can tease and torment the likes of City in 30 minutes when he is still feeling his way back to fitness, imagine what he can do against the rest of the Premier League when he is operating at 100 percent?
It is a scary thought – but not for us Brighton fans. Providing Lamptey can avoid injury from now on, we can look forward to watching one of the best young talents in world football embark on his journey to the very top of the game – live and in person.