Tariq Lamptey’s name has risen to prominence in 2020.
The 20-year-old left boyhood club Chelsea to join Brighton and Hove Albion back in the January transfer window, and since then, has gone from strength to strength. Talk of an England call-up is never far away, and there are even rumours of interest from some of Europe’s biggest clubs, all of whom have been left astounded by Lamptey’s rapid ascent.
Doing things slowly has never been Lamptey’s modus operandi. Ever since his days in Chelsea’s academy, he’s been stealing the headlines for his electric pace, and he’s now getting the chance to showcase what he’s got in the Premier League every week.
Sitting down for an adidas & 90min podcast to celebrate the release of the new X Ghosted boot, Lamptey recalls how it felt seeing top-flight opposition figure out what he was all about, beginning with he debut away to Leicester City in June.
“I’ve got the ball and I’ve skipped past a few players and I’ve drawn a foul, or I’ve skipped past a few other players and crossed it into the box,” he remembers. “There was also a one-v-one moment as well. There’s quite a few from that game.
“That’s just the way I play. I’m always working on my fitness off the pitch and on the training pitch to make sure that, when it’s game time, I’m still running. That’s just a theme with me throughout the whole process from Under-9 to the level I’m at now.”
Predictably, Lamptey made a red-hot start to the 2020/21 Premier League season. Within just three games, he had already won two penalties, proving to be too much for Newcastle’s Allan Saint-Maximin and Manchester United’s Bruno Fernandes.
“They’re fantastic players. I’m privileged to have an opportunity to play against them. Whatever helps the team, I just try to do it,” he says, with his humility refusing to allow him to take the credit.
There’s no avoiding it, however. Lamptey’s talent has been too much for plenty of big names this season, and the right-back admits he’s enjoying the battles he finds himself in.
“When I get on the pitch, I give the other players a lot of respect, but once it’s you against your opponent, everything goes out of the window,” he explains. “You just have to try and get the better of them, and with the way I play, I like to think I’m fearless. I don’t really care who I’m up against.
“It just happens so quickly. One minute, you can see that he’s just edging towards the ball. You think ‘nah, I can get here faster’, so you just put yourself in front. I was looking for a goal, to be fair, but then he hit me and I thought ‘that’s it’.”
Having said that, Lamptey is not getting carried away just yet. He’s quick to remind himself that his career is still in its infancy, and a lot can change.
He’s already starting to see those changes. Senior opponents are well aware of who he is and what he brings to the table now, so the element of surprise is gone. It’s now a test of Lamptey’s ability to overcome a prepared opponent, and he’s loving it.
“When I started, I was new, nobody really knew too much about me, so I had a lot more freedom,” he concludes. “But the last few games, I feel like there has been a bit more of a plan, but I enjoy that kind of stuff. That’s just part of the game and part of my learning. I’m still young, so I have to find ways around that.”