Gaetan Bong has never shirked a challenge.

He started in English football with Wigan at the wrong end of the Championship after severing ties with Olympiakos.

Three years on, he is proving his worth in the Premier League.

From France to Greece, to Lancashire and now Sussex, it has been an eventful journey characterised by Bong’s single-minded determination.

The Argus: Albion manager Chris Hughton knows what he is getting with Bong (above). The left-back is at his best defending, contributing to a team with the lowest number of goals conceded outside the top seven.

Bong’s dependability was recognised this week with a contract extension until the end of next season.

He said: “The thing is I learn with time, with mistakes, new challenges. When I just arrived here (Albion), he (Hughton) just let me be who I am. Some managers change you, they want you to do this or that.

“He knows what I can do and I said to him I know my job. I will not change my football because of what someone says. I’m 29 years old. He knows what I can bring and I am bringing what he asked me to bring.

“If someone wants me to bring something different okay, go and spend £50 million to get somebody with a different style, but for what we want and where we want to be I’ve just given what I need to in order to help the team.”

Hughton’s attention was drawn to Bong months into his reign at the Amex, when he was launching the process of re-establishing Albion as a Championship force and they were beaten by Wigan, who were relegated to League One a few weeks later.

Bong moved to England to join the ailing Latics after an 18-month stint in Greece with Olympiakos turned sour.

“I was playing every single game and then got injured for 12 weeks,” he said. “I was playing, even in Champions League games, with an injection and three days after I was on crutches. I did that for four weeks.

“The doctor told me to stop, because it would end my career. Cameroon were qualifying for the World Cup. I told the manager if they call me I would go, not play because I was injured, but we can qualify for the World Cup and I want to be there.

“When I came back he wasn’t happy that I went. I couldn’t understand why. Greece is not an easy country either. I love it but it’s not easy, many things I cannot say.

“It was a massive club but the manager just changed (attitude). He wasn’t playing me and after a year I decided to go. They didn’t want me to leave, but I stayed without playing for six months, because they needed to pay. In the end I just handed in my contract with Olympiakos and I signed for Wigan just for three months.

“I just wanted to play. I could have gone back to France, because I had French teams that wanted me. But if I had gone back to France it would have felt like taking a step back.

“I knew coming to England people would see what Gaetan Bong can do.”

The Argus: Bong has been an integral part of Albion’s success under Hughton (above), helping them to third and second place finishes in the Championship.

Now they are 12th in the Premier League and FA Cup quarter-finalists, seeking to stretch their unbeaten run across both spheres to seven matches against Arsenal at the Amex on Sunday (1.30pm).

Bong has taken the step from the second tier to first in his stride. “It’s completely different, a different style of football,” he said. “There are more quality players with more speed.

“In the Championship it’s more about physicality and it’s a different style of football. You have to adapt to the Premier League and there are not a lot of players who can do it.

“You can’t just play the same as you did in the Championship in the Premier League, you have to change and find a way to be better, both for yourself and the team.”

Bong has been mentoring Jose Izquierdo since the Colombian left-winger’s summer move from Belgian club Brugge.

Their partnership has developed, especially during Albion’s four-match unbeaten run in the Premier League. They were first paired together in the 2-0 defeat by Arsenal at the Emirates at the beginning of October, when injuries and suspension decimated Hughton’s striker options to such an extent that Izzy Brown (below) had to be deployed as a false number nine.

The Argus: Bong had visions of Izquierdo-type South American attacking flair during his formative years in France.

He said: “When I was younger I was a winger and I was crazy about Rivaldo. He was my favourite, every day I had Rivaldo everywhere.

“Metz was my first professional club. I was 16, 17 when I played my first professional game.

“I learned my football in France. They have some very good players, I just see something different in the UK. There are good players with strength, a different mentality.

“Here they want the players to be all ready to play. In France they know something physically is missing but they just want him to be technically and mentally ready to play.

“After, building muscle, everything will come. I was surprised because when I was in France I heard English young boys are not good. In England they have very good young players, they just maybe need to have more of a chance.

“It’s hard, because when you are playing in the best league in the world, when you can buy players for millions, you want someone who can already play.

“When you are coming through the ranks they always give you less respect than bringing someone in from the outside. This is hard, I think they should give a little more. Even here in Brighton we have some good, young players.”

Bong will be alongside one of them – Lewis Dunk – in Albion’s back four on Sunday, attempting to repel Arsenal, another challenge you can be sure he will not be shirking.