The current Gibraltar national team manager spent three years on the South Coast in the late 1990s, first as assistant to Steve Gritt before eventually stepping into the hot-seat when former Huddersfield Town manager Brian Horton left the club in 1999.
The late-90s represented the lowest point in the Seagulls history, with the club only narrowly avoiding relegation to non-League football during the 1996-97 season and finishing the following campaign second-bottom.
Financially-stricken and forced to play some 70 miles away at Gillingham’s Priestfield Stadium due to the sale of the club’s Goldstone ground, Wood’s tenure as manager was beset with issues on and off the field before eventually being dismissed in April 1999 with the club once again battling relegation.
Eighteen years later and the transformation at the club, earning promotion to the Premier League for the first-time in their history this season, is something Wood acknowledges as a ‘fairytale’ which he hopes to replicate with Gibraltar.
“I still keep in contact with a lot of people down there,” Jeff Wood said after witnessing his side narrowly lose to Cyprus in a 2018 World Cup Qualifier on Friday night.
“What has happened to Brighton has been a massive fairytale and these boys (Gibraltar) are just as capable of getting a result.”
After gaining UEFA membership in May 2013, Gibraltar became the newest member of FIFA in May of last year – allowing the side to compete in their first ever World Cup qualifying campaign ahead of next summer’s Finals tournament in Russia.
And despite being more than a match for their Cypriot counterparts in Portugal’s Estadio Algarve stadium, the nation is still searching for their first ever competitive points after the 2-1 defeat.
Wood was appointed manager of the side in July 2015 and although the final result was ‘disappointing’ for his side to take, he believes the performance shows Gibraltar are on the right track to produce their own fairytale at some point in the near future.
“It will be a fairytale but it will be down to a lot of hard work - from everybody at the Gibraltar Football Association and the players – but it will come,” said Wood.
And Wood was also positive on Brighton’s own chances in the top-flight next season – along with those of the other newly-promoted sides of Newcastle United and Huddersfield Town.
“I think all three clubs that have gone up are big clubs – Newcastle and Brighton especially have massive fanbases,” Wood added.
“Huddersfield haven’t been there before but they’ve got the resources and the fanbase to do something in the Premier League.
“Our analyst, Jansen Moreno, actually works for them so he’s had the champagne on ice the past week or so.”