'It was a gamble joining Brighton but I had a great time there' - Aussie star Reid

Australian midfielder Paul Reid will always be glad he took the gamble to sign for Brighton - despite admitting he was paid 'absolute peanuts' as part of the Albion squad promoted to the Championship in 2004.

Paul Reid in action for Rockdale City Suns
Paul Reid in action for Rockdale City Suns

The 39-year-old looks back on his time with the Seagulls as one of the highlights of his career and admitted joining the club on a short-term contract towards the end of the 2003/04 season probably saved his career in England.

Promotion through the Division 2 play-offs in front of 30,000 Seagulls fans at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff followed a couple of months later and helped Reid earn a two-year deal. He ended up staying with Albion until 2008 and scored five goals in 94 appearances.

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It is now ten years since Reid left the city and returned home to Australia. He enjoyed a successful spell with Adelaide - where he won his two caps for Australia - before also playing for Melbourne Heart, Police United in Thailand and Sydney. He is now player-coach of Rockdale City Suns, along with a full-time community role with Sydney.

Paul Reid pictured with Italian legend Alessandro Del Piero at Sydney

Growing up, Reid had two goals - to play for Australia and in the Premier League. Both could have happened if things had worked out differently. Reid almost got a dream move to Premier League Bolton in 2002, with a transfer from Wollongong agreed but things then frustratingly fell through.

He explains: "Basically a fee of £200,000 had been agreed which at that time was a lot of money for an Australian player. It would have been four installments of £50,000 but then Wollongong said at the last minute they wanted the £200,000 up front.

"Bolton said no and didn't end up going ahead with the deal which was disappointing. I'd agreed a three-year contract with them but these things happen in football.

"Thinking about it now, it's pretty ridiculous what happened. It was an opportunity that was presented to me which I'd earned through my training and playing in reserve games.

"But a few people got greedy and obviously I was the one who suffered from it."

Reid's contract with Wollongong ended that summer and a move to Bradford - who had been impressed watching Reid in reserve action for Bolton - was then agreed but that was not straight forward either: "I was due to go up to Bradford in July for the beginning of pre-season.

"I got to the airport and looked across at the person opposite me on the tube and the headline on the back page was 'Bradford in administration'.

"I had a contract with them but they'd gone into administration and I didn't end up going there until September while everything was being sorted out. It wasn't the most ideal start to being in England."

Reid scored two goals in eight matches for the Bantams but fell out of favour under Bryan Robson. He ended up going on trial to Brighton through a recommendation by Bradford team-mate Michael Standing, the nephew of then Albion chairman Dick Knight, who Reid impressed in a reserve game.

Reid admits the move to the Seagulls was a gamble - and has said in previous interviews then Brighton boss Mark McGhee saved his career in England: "I wasn't going anywhere when I was at Bradford. I had the opportunity to go to Grimsby but that was just until the end of the year.

"And I only signed with Brighton until the end of the season, so it was a gamble.

"I was getting paid absolute peanuts. I was on £200 a week, my wife was still working and I was living with Michael Standing's parents so wasn't paying for accommodation but I was getting paid just £200 a week, plus £100 if I was on the team sheet.

"The funny thing was if we played two games that week, a Tuesday and a Saturday, I would still only get £100.

"But I just thought I had to do it. We got promoted and after that season Mark McGhee gave me a two-year contract."

Reid helped Albion stay up in the Championship the next season, before the Seagulls were relegated the following year and then finished 18th and seventh in League One in his following two injury-hit seasons with the club.

After being released by Brighton, a trial at Hereford did not work out - neither did a return to train with the Seagulls under Micky Adams - and Reid returned to Australia.

A run to the Asian Champions League final with Adelaide saw Reid capped twice by Australia, before spells with Melbourne, Sydney and an eventful six-month spell with Police United in Thailand. He remembers: "It was a great experience in Thailand but very unprofessional. I'd never seen anything like it.

"It was extremely hot so we used to train at 6pm but players would rock up an hour late to training, come out on to the field and the coach wouldn't say anything.

"There was no discipline but the league was a decent standard.

"I was based in Bangkok and it was definitely an eye-opener. There were lots of things to do outside of football and it was an experience I never thought I'd have in football."

Reid retired as a professional after the 2012/13 season but still plays for Rockdale and his full-time job is community football manager at Sydney FC, where he runs school programmes and holiday clinics and goes out to schools to promote the club.

The radiography degree he finished in 2001 now looks as though it will stay on the backburner for good and Reid said: "I was always thinking to fall back on that when my football career finished.

"That was the main reason I did radiography but I haven't been involved in it since 2001 which is pretty unbelievable really. I've just stayed in football and probably will stay in football at this rate in some capacity.

"I really enjoyed radiography and would enjoy it as a profession but I love football and both my kids are playing football now.

"It's pretty cool to still be involved in football on a full-time basis even when I'm not playing professionally."

Looking back on his professional career, Reid said: "I can't say whether I had a better time at Adelaide or Brighton but they are the two clubs where I had the best times.

"Growing up I wanted to play in England and in the Premier League. I didn't manage to do that but playing in the Championship was still great for me and a great experience.

"The other goal for me was to play for Australia and I was fortunate enough to be able to achieve that. I wanted to play more than twice but it's still a lot more than a lot of other people have managed."

One future goal for Reid now is to watch Brighton run out in the Premier League at the Amex: "I had an enjoyable time in Brighton, it was a great club, a great place to live in England and we've still got friends over there who we'll go and see when we next come to England.

"When I come over, I definitely want to see a game at the Amex and watch Brighton in the Premier League."