Luis Garcia says he will always regret walking away from a potential path to the Premier League with Albion.

But the former youth teamer from Las Palmas continues to be guided by values learnt with the Seagulls' academy as he eyes what looks a bright future on or off the pitch in the USA.

He also remains in daily contact with his former sidekick Robert Sanchez, who he thinks of as a big brother.

Garcia was a pioneering signing for the Albion youth set-up when he arrived in 2014.

He was a hot property who had been scouted by Mark Anderson and had trials at both Albion and Liverpool.

His agent only worked for two players - Garcia and Mauro Icardi.

Albion's academy net is spread globally these days but, back then, there was some excitement over a boy from the distant Canary Islands coming to the junior ranks.

Garcia, an attacking midfielder, had his sights on the Prem. He just wishes he had given it more of a go.

These days, the English he started to pick up in Sussex is fluent and serving him well at college.

He studies marketing at Providence and stars on the pitch for their division one NCAA soccer team.

There are career possibilities off the pitch and the goal of MLS on it.

But thoughts of what might have been in England remain.

Garcia, 22, told The Argus: “I was 15 so I was a kid to be honest.

“It was exciting. I was playing for Las Palmas.

“As soon as Brighton called me, I knew I wanted to go there, 100%.

“For the first few weeks my dad came with me to see how it was, then after that I was on his own.

“I didn’t really speak English well. It was a Spanglish, like a mix, so it was tough.

“As soon as I arrived Sue Parris, who was the education chief at Brighton, told me I had to go to school.

“I was really nervous because I didn’t have a good level of English and I was put into school without understanding anything.

“I was living with (Irish midfielder) Danny Mandroiu and he helped me a lot.

“I started to understand Irish players more than English!”

Oscar Garcia, no relation, was head coach when Luis was on trial but Sami Hyypia had taken charge by the time he signed.

Of course, the first team was a long way off but Garcia had contacts with some of the senior players as well as coach Joaquin Gomez.

He said: "Yes of course, Joaquin, Bruno and Calde helped me a lot, they made everything easier for me but without a doubt, the one who helped the most was Adrian Colunga.

"He was one of my idols when I was little. He played for Las Palmas and I used to go to the stadium in Gran Canaria to watch him. He was always there when I needed him.

"I will always be grateful to everyone But I have a very special affection for Adrián, he was like a father."

Albion were at the wrong end of the Championship at the time but still with big ambitions as they moved into their new training complex.

Garcia said: “Of course my ambition was to play in the Premier League.

“I came with the vision as a kid to make it into the first team as soon as possible.

“But as soon as I got there I knew there were some very good players and it would be very tough.

“I worked very hard but things didn’t go that way.

“I’m not 100% sure but I think me and Danny were the first international players in the under-18s.”

Garcia did not feel any undue weight of expectation, despite the great efforts to bring him in from overseas.

"Not at all. I went to England to enjoy football. I never had pressure from my family or friends so I went there to play and give my best."

Sanchez was soon added to the academy ranks after signing from Levante and the two Spanish boys struck up a rapport.

Garcia said: “I met Rob six months, I think, after I came.

“At the beginning we didn’t have that close a relationship because I was living with Danny.

“But, as soon as I started meeting Rob, the first thing I told the club was I wanted to live with him.

"I remember when we would stay up until the wee hours of the morning playing FIFA, talking about everything we wanted to achieve in football and of one day playing at the highest level together.

“He is a pretty relaxed guy, confident about himself. He is like my family now.

“I feel like he was pretty confident from when he came that he was going to make the first team one day and even the national team.

“Everyone who knows him knew he was going to get to that level."

It has been a long road for Sanchez. Overnight success tends to take a while to achieve.

As for Garcia, he did not go the distance.

He played 21 games for the under-18s in the 2016-17 season, scoring five goals.

One of his strikes was nominated for the league's goal of the season award.

He also featured in an FA Youth Cup tie versus Stoke City, joining the Irish pair Mandroiu and Jayson Molumby in midfield in support of a front three of Aaron Connolly, Reece Meekums (now Worthing) and David Ajiboye (now Sutton).

But he grew impatient and headed home.

He said: “This is something I will regret my whole life.

“I went back to Spain because I wanted to go back home.

“I was homesick a little bit but I also felt at that time that I wanted to rush. It was no good.

“When I told the club that I didn’t want to keep playing for Brighton, they told me I should stay but you never know so I just left.

“It was pretty much my decision.

“I was 17, 18 at the time and my dad knew it was my opinion so they supported me with it.”

Anderson, the man who scouted Garcia and spent time with his parents in Gran Canaria to help get the deal done, believes his story underlines the challenges young players face off the pitch, especially when coming from abroad.

Garcia’s regret now has nothing to do with seeing how things have worked out for Sanchez.

He said: “That’s irrelevant because everyone has their path.

“As soon as I knew Rob, I knew he was going to be their No.1.

“But maybe I should have worked harder than him. 
"For me, the fact that Robert is fulfilling his dream makes me very happy.

"It's as if I were living it with him.

"We talk every day and he tells me everything he is living today, what we talked about when we were 17 years old.

"For me and my family Robert is like one of us. We all watch his games at home. Seeing Robert this happy and enjoying it makes us feel happy too."

Garcia headed from Albion to Sevilla B and then Las Palmas B.

It was on his return to Spain that he decided to concentrate on studies as well as football.

He said: “I have always had good grades so that has helped me be here at college.

“But also my career in football - the small career I’ve had – has helped.

“I’m pretty grateful to be here. I have a full scholarship and not many people have that.

“I’m enjoying it here. I have ambition to go MLS but it’s hard.

“I really love Brighton - the team and the people from the area.

“They have had a very positive impact on my adolescence, so I will forever be grateful to the club and the city.”