I'm Evan Ferguson's former coach – I knew he was special when he showed up the U18s as a 14-year-old with magic moment | The Sun

EVAN FERGUSON stunned his youth-team coach on his first day at Brighton – by scoring a Cruyff turn that went in off the bar.

The Irish striker, 18, is causing shockwaves throughout the Premier League.

And he scored his first senior hat-trick with a superb treble against Newcastle on Saturday.

But for Mark Beard, Ferguson's superb goalscoring exploits are no surprise.

Beard worked with the six-cap Republic of Ireland international – who could still choose to represent England – striker in Brighton's academy and is now head coach at Eastbourne Borough.

The ex-Millwall and Sheffield United midfielder said: "The first time he came in he was only 14 and John Morling (Brighton's former academy manager) had known he was a special talent from the age of ten.


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"John said, 'I've got a 14-year-old and I want to try him in the Under-18s.' He was unbelievable from day one.

"I will always remember on his first day someone pinged a cross to him around the penalty spot and he’s done a Cruyff turn in the air and it hit the bar and flew in. Everyone stopped and clapped him.

"From that moment I knew this kid was special, even from the way he carried himself. He walked in like an 18-year-old man, the way he shook your hand, looked you in the eye and got on with the boys.

"He’s got confidence but not loud, he just knows he’s a good player. There’s nothing not to like about him, the players and coaches love him.

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"Evan can play up front, on the wing, he’s got all the attributes to do absolutely everything – header, volley, left foot, right foot. 

"I’ve only ever seen him have one bad game and even then he still scored two goals. He’s a natural finisher."

Ferguson made headlines as a 14-year-old, coming on for Irish side Bohemians in a pre-season friendly with Chelsea in 2019.

The forward impressed against Frank Lampard's star-studded team and even set up the Bohemians' 89th-minute equaliser with a cheeky stepover.

That had Beard and the Seagulls academy sweating on still landing the youngster – but Morling's connections ensured he swapped Bohemians for Brighton, officially joining in 2021.

Ferguson is now settled on the South Coast, has passed his driving test and put pen to paper on fresh terms at the Amex to ward off transfer interest from the likes of Manchester United.

Beard added on BBC Radio 5 Live's Monday Night Club: "We knew we had him signed at 14 then he played against Chelsea's first team in a pre-season game.

Graham Potter was brave and trusted the kid

"As soon as that happened, there were headlines everywhere and we thought, ‘Oh no.’

"This unknown kid we thought we had was wanted by Chelsea, Manchester United. It made our job harder.

"We actually got him early, we got special permission to get him signed and he came over at 16 when he still should have been at school. 

"Our head of academy was working for Ireland, he knew Evan from ten and had a good relationship with his parents. Brighton is such a good family club. He could have gone to other places for more money. 

"Some Premier League managers wouldn’t give him the opportunity but Graham Potter was brave and trusted the kid.

"He was a bit worried when Roberto De Zerbi came in and almost went out on loan but he scored against Everton [in January 2023] and stayed. I knew he would make it. 

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"He was an early developer and is only going to get stronger but he is also technically brilliant. He’s so quick, deceptively quick. He is rapid.

"I haven’t seen anything fazing him. The only thing that could stop him is an injury."

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