Alireza Jahanbakhsh admits his stunning overhead kick against Chelsea has helped convince him he belongs in the Premier League, having previously felt “lost” at Brighton.
Seagulls forward Jahanbakhsh has been inundated with supportive messages following his eye-catching strike in the 1-1 draw on New Year’s Day.
Albion’s £17million record signing initially struggled to make an impact after moving to England from Dutch club AZ Alkmaar in the summer of 2018.
The 26-year-old has been a peripheral figure at the Amex Stadium this season but has now scored twice in two games after breaking his 20-match top-flight duck against Bournemouth last weekend.
“It’s been a great week for me. Since I joined the club, I always wanted to show my quality, be important for the team and just show the fans I can be involved with wins and help the team to get points,” he said.
“Obviously different country, different culture, I knew it was going to be difficult and the Premier League is a tough competition.
“As a foreign player you need to take your time, settle down and perform good for your club. To be honest, 2019 wasn’t the best year I expected but I always work hard.
“I knew what I’ve got. I had a feeling that I lost myself for a while. I wanted to show myself that you can do it and, if you get your chance, you have to be there.
“The chance was there and I had responsibility on my shoulders for myself to (show) that you still got it.
“There is a reason that you are here and just show the reason, be there and perform well.
“It was a very tough time but my best friends, my close family, my parents were always positive.”
Jahanbakhsh marked his first league start of a frustrating season under Graham Potter by scoring the opening goal of last Saturday’s 2-0 win over Bournemouth.
He followed it up on Wednesday by coming off the bench to salvage a point against Frank Lampard’s Blues in acrobatic fashion.
The Iran international has been watching replays of the sensational goal, while enjoying the contrasting reactions of friends, family and social media users.
“I’ve been just looking back at the goal a couple of times,” he said.
“It was nice to see different reactions. A lot of friends and family from back home and my ex-team-mates, everybody was really happy for me.
“The reaction has been a bit different, some people have been like, ‘How have you done such a thing?’, some people have been like, ‘We didn’t expect you to do such a thing’, some people have been saying, ‘We have been waiting for you to do such a thing’.
“I’ve been happy to see different texts.
“Hopefully I can give better performances and more goals for the club.”
Speculation has been rife that Jahanbakhsh could leave Albion during the January transfer window due to his limited game time.
The player, who will hope to start Saturday’s FA Cup third-round tie at home to Sheffield Wednesday, refused to rule out a move but insists he is happy on the south coast.
“I have always been feeling good with the club. I really like the city, people are very nice,” he said.
“I didn’t talk about leaving the club but as a football player you always want to play and that’s normal in every job. Anything you love, you want to be involved.
“You never know what the future brings. Even five days ago, nobody knew these things were going to happen and we will see what the future will bring.”