Updated:Feb 23, 2023 7:54 pm
Football’s hype machine can often chew up burgeoning reputations and spit out prices of broken dreams, however, in Evan Ferguson, Brighton has a wonderkid ready to marry expectations with performances.
The teenager, who doesn’t turn 19 until October, moves like an old-fashioned centre-forward cut from more traditional cloth, though following him in flesh reveals a modern rounded skillset that should make him one of the Premier League’s deadliest weapons over the next decade.
With world-class strikers considered rare beasts, Ferguson’s rise promises to be rapid and with each dynamic display, it’s becoming more difficult for Albion and Republic of Ireland supporters to keep a lid on their excitement.
Understandably, Ferguson is already considered the jewel of the Emerald Isle and he has already been the subject of countless newspaper features and TV segments in his homeland, while many of the bookmakers listed on Irish sites like betyou.ie have been taking flurries of bets on the wonderkid in Premier League goalscoring markets most weeks.
Ferguson’s rapid rise
Evan Ferguson’s rise has been the very definition of meteoric. Just four years ago, the forward made his first foray into senior football when he represented Dublin-based outfit Bohemians in a friendly game with Premier League giants Chelsea.
Ferguson was just 14 when he featured against the Bohs, becoming the youngest-ever player to pull on the Gypsies’ famous black and red stripes. The precociously-talented attacker had just a handful of appearances under his belt before Brighton came calling in January 2021.
Albion, who seems to have the inside track on emerging talents across the globe, added Ferguson to their academy roster and the Meath-born teen quickly became a prolific source of goals in the Seagulls’ junior ranks.
Ferguson impressed the coaches at Brighton to such a degree that he was drafted into a Premier League matchday squad as quickly as December 15th of the same year, when he was an unused substitute against Wolves.
Just a month later, Ferguson saw action off the bench against WBA in the FA Cup and promptly set up a goal for Jakob Moder. The groundwork had been laid and with more experienced gained from a smattering of late-season runouts, Ferguson was ready to come of age in 2022/23.
Ferguson turns heads in the Premier League
Ferguson emerged from Brighton’s pre-season preparations as a more robust physical presence and when he found the net for Albion in his first start of the campaign in a Carabao Cup clash at Forest Green, he was offered the opportunity to step up a level in the Premier League.
Seven minutes of top-tier involvement against Southampton was followed up by half an hour and a goal against title-favourites Arsenal, and Ferguson finally earned a first Premier League start at Everton on January third this year.
Ferguson was virtually unplayable at Goodison Park. The 18-year-old marked his full debut with a goal on 51 minutes and set up another shortly after. In a whirlwind of a display, the Irishman also rattled the woodwork and was booked for a heavy challenge, further signs that he was ready to mix it with more senior counterparts.
Brighton boss Roberto de Zerbi has been trying to drip- feed Ferguson’s involvement, though the striker assisted against Liverpool and scored versus Leicester in the only two Premier League fixtures he’s played in since, and Albion’s Italian coach won’t be able to hold him back for much longer.
Irish eyes are smiling
While Ferguson’s exploits for Brighton have been writing headlines in England, football fans across the Irish Sea in the Republic have been watching his development with keen interest.
Ireland have been in international football’s wilderness for some time, however, in Ferguson, they have their emergence of their biggest star since all-time leading scorer Robbie Keane burst onto the scene all the way back in 1998.
Ferguson was called up to the country’s senior set-up for the first time in November last year, and made his debut for The Boys in Green in a friendly against Norway shortly after, though he has yet to play a competitive contest for his country.
His time should come when Ireland start their European Championship qualification campaign against Latvia in March however, where Ferguson could feature alongside a raft of other Irish youngsters making strides in England.
Southampton’s Gavin Bazunu, Wolves pair Nathan Collins and Joe Hodge, and Burnley’s Josh Cullen are among those impressing for their clubs in the UK this season, while Ferguson’s teammate at Brighton, Andrew Moran, has been tipped to be the next starlet to trip off the increasingly effective Albion production line.
Irish football fans have been waiting for a new era to dawn and Ferguson looks ready to lead a generation sprinkled heavily with stardust to new heights soon.