This could well have been a breakthrough season for Enock Mwepu.
We will never know if that would have happened.
Crucially, we’ll also never know what could have happened in a more worrying sense if the massive demands of top-flight football had proved too much.
And that has to be the bottom line for the big decision he made to hang up his boots.
Mwepu retired from playing aged just 24 due to an inherited heart condition.
It’s the right decision, as Albion’s chief medical officer Adam Brett points out.
He does so with a trophy in the collection for his club’s goal of the season.
That’s one of the hallmarks of a career as an athlete.
A few seconds can be cherished by so many people for so many years.
These are the moments we frame in our memories, but they are the fruit of hours, months, years of hard work.
Once again, and just as importantly, he is retiring someone whose courteous, smiling and open demeanor has made him a fantastic ambassador for his nation, for his club and for himself.
And he’s doing so as an unfulfilled talent in the Premier League.
That will be the frustration, the “what if?” – if such words are valid under the circumstances.
We’ve seen what he can do. His peaks were high but rare.
The goal of the season at Anfield, of course.
And also his major part in a result and performance that changed the course of Albion’s recent Prem advances.
That was at Arsenal towards the end of last season when he was involved in the opening goal and scored the winning goal.
His goal itself was a beautifully executed half-volley into the bottom corner for a 2-0 lead. Excellent technique when row Z beckoned.
It was his first league start in two months.
The frustration will be that such a dynamic was never allowed to develop.
After goals at Leicester in the Carabao Cup and Liverpool in the league, he only played the first half at home against Newcastle and was then sidelined for a few weeks.
He played a big part in goals against Brentford and at Everton around Christmas and New Year.
Then, when everything seemed to be going well, he suffered a hamstring injury in the third round of the FA Cup at West Bromwich Albion, which sidelined him longer than originally expected.
A week after that successful return to the Emirates, he only made it to half-time at Tottenham.
His distance at half-time in that game was said to have been tactical and it was to some extent that Graham Potter scrapped his idea of playing with a false nine and sent Danny Welbeck.
But maybe it was also because he luckily didn’t receive a second yellow card.
That’s why he was the one who had to give way to Welbeck.
We had seen so much promise from Mwepu but never a sustained run. That was often due to injuries, which is why this season looked so exciting.
He was among the opportunities to impress in midfield in the absence of Yves Bissouma.
With a clear health and fitness run, of course.
He could have become a Premier League midfield monster had he been allowed to fulfill his potential.
At the time the concern was that he might be a bit nagging. Or maybe illness.
What no one could have guessed was what was to follow in a life-changing chapter. But then again, these were times of the unexpected.
Ironically, the man who announced himself with a cup goal against Leicester recently ended his playing days against the Foxes.
What an opportunity at the end of the chapter that Sunday afternoon’s five-goal game showed itself on so many counts.
A driving run, a look up and a perfect pass resulted in Mwepu scoring for Moises Caicedo in that game.
He could. The computer. strength and balance.
A part anyway.
The disappointment is that we didn’t see more.
The relief is that he has a long life ahead of him.
https://www.theargus.co.uk/sport/23037846.brightons-enock-mwepu-looked-set-even-bigger-things/?ref=rss Brighton’s Enock Mwepu looked up for bigger things