Albion teenager Jordan Maguire-Drew still remembers the moment he was welcomed to the fully professional leagues.

It was in an early season Vanarama National tussle as he tried to find his feet on loan to Dagenham.

“Bromley away – in the first ten minutes,” he said. “I went to turn. All of a sudden I’ve been kicked into the air, I’m on my back and one of their centre-halves is saying ‘It’s not like Brighton here, mate’.

“I just laughed. I thought ‘You’re not kidding’ but I’m loving it.

“I feel like I’m a lot stronger. I don’t get pushed off the ball now. I’m a more rounded player.

“I’m winning headers from goal kicks. I’ve never done that in my life.

“I can do the technical side but now I can do the ugly side as well.”

Right-winger Maguire-Drew, 19, is with the Daggers until January 7.

He was talking after Saturday’s hard-fought 1-0 win in a six-pointer at Eastleigh which took them second in the table.

The Argus:

At times in the first half, he dazzled. He hit the bar with a mis-directed cross after beating two men and later cut inside three tackles before seeing his 20-yard shot saved – and the rebound blazed over an open goal.

In the second period he hardly got the ball. But he dug in, did his work and would have tapped into an empty net late on had a colleague spotted him.

Significantly, when the going got tough, veteran boss John Still did not take his winger off.

“You saw both sides,” Still told The Argus. “You have got to recognise the state of the game and do the job for the team on certain occasions. He did that today.

“Six weeks ago he perhaps wouldn’t have done that or wouldn’t have known how to do that.

“Technically he is very gifted but, at these levels, you have to have something else as well.

“He is a talented young man and I think he is learning more with us than he would in under-23s football.”

That is exactly why Albion release players such as Maguire-Drew, Christian Walton (at Luton) and Tom Dallison (Cambridge) out on loan into such tough environments.

Maguire-Drew has a lovely touch on the ball and, like his Dagenham coach Darren Currie, can whip in an inviting delivery.

He has taken to fifth division life quickly, which is some going when you consider he finished last season in the eighth tier with Worthing.

“Jordan was top scorer in our under-18s last year in the league at Christmas and I think we would expect him to do well at Worthing,” said Albion academy manager John Morling.

“But he was playing men’s football, he was around senior players.

“I think he learnt loads from that experience and he was part of Worthing getting promoted.

“Off the back of that, John Still rang and asked about taking him to Dagenham.

“He said he’ll play in the Conference, which is a great level for him, and he is doing really well.

“Jordan can produce a bit of magic and win a game.

“The bit we wanted to see from him is that he can handle that senior environment week in, week out and be consistent.

“He can’t play every game but we trust John to use Jordan in the right way.”

Maguire-Drew did not appreciate being left out after scoring on his debut.

He said: “In pre-season we were playing games every two or three days.

“I had just turned 19 and I had never done that before.

“I was used to playing once a week so he rested me.

“At the time I didn’t agree with what he did but now I can see why he did it and I’m thanking him.

“I’ve got five assists, five goals and I’m playing really well – and we are right up there.”

Moving away from Sussex held no worries for Maguire-Drew.

“I lived in digs in Brighton when I moved down there from Crawley.

“Now I’m living in a flat in Romford with a couple of the boys, which is good fun. We are a good tight knit group.

“John (Morling) and Simon (Rusk, Albion under-23s manager) are always calling me to see how I’m doing.

“They send people to come and watch and keep tabs on me.

“John Still has helped me massively. I can’t thank him enough.”

Daggers fans have taken to Maguire-Drew, who always has an eye to taking up central positions as play develops.

They compare him very favourably with predecessor Jodi Jones, the man Albion wanted to sign at one stage and who is now at the foot of League One with Coventry.

So what happens when his loan is up on January 7?

“If I’m needed at Brighton, I go back,” he said. “But, if I’m not, I’d like to stay here for the season.

“Get a full season of good football behind me and hopefully go back with another promotion to my name and, if Brighton aren’t already in the Premier League, help them get there.

“That would be my dream come true because I’ve been there since I was eight years old.

“That’s my thing, isn’t it? Brighton.”