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I can handle the pressure insists new striker

The Coca-Cola Kid strode into the brightest media spotlight of his young life and declared: "I can handle the pressure."

Colin Kazim-Richards is the new kid on the block for Albion after they fought off challenges from Wigan, Stoke and Leicester for his signature.

He comes south from Bury with a six-figure price tag and the added pressure of being the player signed with help from one of the biggest brands on the planet.

Coca-Cola invested heavily for this bit of publicity and will expect Kazim-Richards to deliver.

The 18-year-old East Ender's reaction to all that: Bring it on.

"Pressure's good," he insisted at a press conference in his honour at Withdean Stadium.

"Without pressure you wouldn't have anything to live up to.

"My target is to be in the side. I'm going to prove in pre-season I can be in the starting XI.

"We've got good players here like Leon Knight but I'm going to get in the starting XI and we'll see how it goes from there."

Inevitably, the player who has scored just three senior goals will be compared to fellow Cockney Bobby Zamora, who was plucked from obscurity at Bristol Rovers and became a Seagulls goal-scoring hero.

His response? "Of course I want to score because I'm a striker.

"But I don't compare myself to anybody. I'm just going to say watch this space'.

"People like to compare you. If I went to Inter Milan they'd compare me with Adriano.

"But players are all different. I've got quite few strengths. If I'm in front of goal, I'll score. If someone's in front of me, I'll go past them.

"Yes, I've got confidence but the reason I've got confidence is Brighton wanted me."

Kazim-Richards has the touch and physique to trouble opposing defenders, according to his new boss Mark McGhee.

McGhee should know, having been a striker himself, and chairman Dick Knight suggested the Albion boss would keep a close eye on the new boy's development, possibly with one-to-one coaching.

Kazim-Richards described the chance to play in top-class stadia in the Championship as a dream come true after coming up the hard way.

As a schoolboy he had spells at Arsenal, West Ham and QPR and moved to Bury after failing to make the grade at Wimbledon.

He said: "Wimbledon said I was too small but without people telling you you can't do it, you wouldn't have anybody to prove wrong.

"I learned a lot at Bury. Graham Barrow is a great manager.

"Of course when you get in the first team you get different experiences.

"You get fans shouting at you when you have a bad touch. But you learn to get over that criticism. I think that's what I've learned the most.

"Sometimes strikers get a lot of stick. Of course I'm going to get stick but if I'm not doing something right I want Mark McGhee to tell me. I'm sure he will.

"I had a couple of other clubs who were interested but then Mr McGhee got in touch, I came down and everything they said was really interesting.

"I spoke to my mum, my dad and my agent and we agreed.

"The ground is not the best but the playing surface is.

"The new stadium is on its way and Brighton is a massive club. If we could, we would get 20,000 a week."

Kazim-Richards described the city of Brighton and Hove as "wicked" and proudly showed off his new shirt with name and No. 22 on the back.

It is a longer surname than planned. The new boy, whose father Rodney has Antiguan parents and whose mother Emine is a Turkish Cypriot, revealed: "My name was supposed to be Colin-Kazim Richards.

"The home office got it wrong and they double-barrelled it.

"It's worked out better though because I love my name."

Seagulls fans, not to mention Coca-Cola, will hope he makes a real name for himself in Sussex.



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