Since Euro 2016, the last major tournament in which Ireland participated and the twilight of the international career of legend Robbie Keane, the men in green have lived through a dark period. But a light beam reappeared on March 22, during a seemingly harmless victory in a friendly match against Latvia (3-2). It came from Evan Ferguson’s first national goal.
At 18, the Brighton player also became the club’s youngest scorer since Robbie Keane in 1998. The former Tottenham striker went on to score 67 more with the national team. All the Irish people hope to have their successor in the person of Evan Ferguson. If Europe of football discovers this phenomenon, the Irish place hopes in him for a few years already.
First game with the pros at 14
On Wednesday July 10, 2019, at Daylmount Park in Dublin, the Bohemians host Chelsea in a pre-season match. The curiosity of the day is above all Frank Lampard’s first match on the bench for the Blues, but all eyes will turn from the 67th minute to a 14-year-old kid. Evan Ferguson enters the game in the colors of his training club.
In the 89th, he proved his game intelligence by letting the ball pass for Eric Molloy, who snatched the draw (1-1). In 2019, even if he is not yet playing with the first team, the Irishman made his first appearance as a professional in an official match on September 20, 2019 against Derry City.
During the 2020-2021 winter transfer window, when he was 16, Brighton came to recover the son of Barry Ferguson, an honest national player. A little over a year later, he made his first steps in the Premier League. When he was still only 17, Graham Potter brought him into play on February 19, 2019 against Burnley.
Since the World Cup, Evan Ferguson has established himself in Brighton’s squad. Still confined to reserve matches under Graham Potter and then during Roberto De Zerbi’s first weeks, the Irishman took advantage of Danny Welbeck’s injury to take the number 9 spot. Alongside Japanese winger Kaoru Mitoma, who has also grown since the World Cup, the Irish center-forward of 1.83 m brings power and creativity in the axis.
Essential in Brighton
Strong and very present in the surface, Evan Ferguson is above all skilful with both feet and capable of very beautiful gestures. Witness the first of his two goals in the FA Cup quarter-final against Grimsby Town. An acrobatic oriented control vaguely reminiscent of Dennis Bergkamp before a clinical finish of which he has had the secret since his youth.
In Roberto De Zerbi’s scheme, Ferguson quickly found his feet. In a team that likes to have the ball (60.8% possession, second best total in the Premier League), the Irishman is constantly available to be able to create movement and exchange with Kaoru Mitoma, Solly Marsch or Alexis Mac Allister. In ten league games, including five starts, Evan Fergusson scored 3 goals and delivered 2 assists. He was notably decisive against Arsenal and Liverpool.
He has already made William Saliba suffer
In Brighton’s oiled squad, he is often the first to be seen. Essential in the first wave of pressing, he has a certain aggressiveness that he obviously retains when hitting. Without being selfish, he already seems to be made of the same wood as some great European centre-forwards. So, like any successful Irish striker, comparisons with Robbie Keane seem obligatory.
William Saliba experienced the youngster’s aggressiveness at his expense. For his first goal in the Premier League, on December 31, Evan Ferguson jostled the massive French central defender in the box, then quietly adjusted Aaron Ramsdale with serenity (2-4 defeat).