Evan Ferguson – Ireland’s diamond in the rough

Colum Motherway

Evan Ferguson - Ireland's solution up front?

Since the days of Robbie Keane, the Republic of Ireland have been crying out for a goalscoring striker to come through the youth ranks and at just 18 years of age, Evan Ferguson might finally be the nation’s solution.

Ferguson signed for Brighton & Hove Albion’s academy in January 2021 and has recently started to get a run of games for the senior side, starting up front in the Premier League. Brighton manager, Roberto de Zerbi, gave the teenager his first league appearance of the season against Southampton on St. Stephen’s Day bringing him off the bench in a 3-1 win.

In their following match against Arsenal, Ferguson was brought on as a substitute on the hour mark and went on to score his first senior goal in a 4-2 defeat to the league leaders. The striker bullied 6’4” defender William Saliba off the ball and calmly slotted it past Aaron Ramsdale making him the youngest ever Irish player to score in the Premier League and also Brighton’s youngest ever Premier League goalscorer.

Evan Ferguson “will be a very important player” for Brighton

Ferguson then was rewarded his full debut for the club in the following match against Everton, in which he netted another goal and also grabbed an assist in a 4-1 thrashing. De Zerbi said after the match that Ferguson will be a “very important player” for Brighton this season and added that he has “all the qualities, both physical and technical”.

The teenager also grabbed another assist in Brighton’s 3-0 hammering of Liverpool last Saturday which has created more and more excitement about his future in football. Ferguson came to Brighton from Dublin side Bohemians where he made his senior debut in a friendly against Frank Lampard’s Chelsea at just 14 years old. He only went on to make four competitive appearances for the League of Ireland side before departing to England.

He made his international debut for the Republic of Ireland on the 17 th of November 2022, coming off the bench in the 89 th minute in a 2-1 friendly defeat to Norway. On his 18 th birthday back in October, the 6’2” Co. Meath native signed his first long-term professional contract to keep him at Brighton until June 2026.

Since Belgian forward Leandro Trossard fell out with de Zerbi in training and is on the verge of a move to Arsenal, Ferguson has a real chance to become Brighton’s main man up top in their push for European football next season.

This bodes well for his homeland with the first match of their tough qualifying group for Euro 2024 coming up in March against France in Dublin.

Fergie time is coming to the Republic of Ireland.

Colum Motherway

Image Credit: PA