Albion can expect to feel the pressure from on and off the pitch in Athens.

That is the message from a former Seagulls player now enjoying a new lease of life in the Greek Super League 1.

Martin Montoya is a regular for Aris Thessaloniki as they push for a European place.

He was at left-back in Sunday in a 2-0 win over leaders Panathinaikos which left AEK Athens just one point off top spot.

Montoya played at left-back while former Brentford man Moses Odubajo patrolled the right.

After frustrating times, including injury, at Real Betis, Montoya has found Greece to be a great option for himself and his family.

He said: “It has been very good. Thankfully the children are happy here.

“They are at an American school so they are still learning English.

“At Betis I played very little last year.

“I was hoping for an opportunity in Spain. I didn’t want to take the family abroad again.

“I was waiting and waiting but nothing really happened and then this came up.

“I don’t regret it. The level of the league is not quite the same as England and Spain but I am playing and that’s the most important thing for a footballer.”

Montoya made 56 appearances for Albion in two years under Chris Hughton and Graham Potter.

He recently met with Andrea Orlandi, who preceded him in the stripes, and both agreed they would love to be back at Brighton these days.

With his new club, Montoya has yet to face AEK.

That comes on Monday when Aris go to Athens so he will have extra reason to watch Thursday’s game with interest.

AEK were physically strong at the Amex, as they were against at Marseille recently, and have a good record at scoring from set-pieces.

Montoya said: “It’s a physical league.

“There are four teams at the top with more quality, who play with the ball.

“The other teams tend to be physical teams who run, who fight.

“We play AEK next week. I have been told that are a physical team who press you hard, who run, and then they have got some quality players.

“Players like Araujo, who played for Las Palmas, and Ponce.”

But the different challenges will not end on the pitch.

Greek fans are renowned their fervent support and Albion got just a taste of that when AEK won at the Amex in September.

The atmosphere is expected to be on a par with what was experienced at Marseille.

But the more compact, intimate surrounds of the AEK stadium will add an intensity.

Greek reporters with questions about Albion going into the game have asked about that – how will the visitors from England deal with the intimidating Greek atmosphere?

Montoya says it is indeed something special.

He added: “The atmosphere here is incredible.

“We played our derby against PAOK and there were flares, lots of noise.

“You see it as well with the teams who are playing in Europe.

“The flares, singing and supporting and really increasing the pressure from the stands.”

Montoya was watching Manchester City v Liverpool on TV as he spoke to The Argus from home and keeps close tabs on the Premier League and Albion.

He said: “We were very happy in Brighton.

“As a place to live, it had everything except the weather!

“But you learn to adapt where you go.

“Here right now it’s beautiful during the day and a bit fresh at night.”

That said, minimum temperatures during Albion’s stay in Athens are not forecast to dip into single figures.

Albion can certainly expect things to be hot at the AEK arena on Thursday evening.