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Who is Evan Ferguson? The inside track on the rising Ireland and Brighton star

Ferguson is a striker for Brighton and Ireland, and has hit the headlines this week after netting back-to-back Premier League goals against Arsenal and Everton.

Evan Ferguson celebrates his second Premier League goal against Everton.© PA

Sean O'ConnorIndependent.ie

After scoring back-to-back top-flight goals, here is everything you need to know about the 18-year-old from Bettystown in Meath who is lighting up the Premier League.

Who is Evan Ferguson?

Ferguson is a striker for Brighton and Ireland, and has hit the headlines this week after netting back-to-back Premier League goals against Arsenal and Everton.

Brighton boss Roberto De Zebri brought Ferguson off the bench against Gavin Bazunu’s Southampton on St Stephen’s Day, before he scored a fine consolation goal in their 4-2 loss to Arsenal on New Year’s Eve.

It got even better on Tuesday night, as the teenager earned his first Premier League start and netted a goal and an assist as the Seagulls thrashed Everton 4-1 to jump to eighth in the table.

Did he make history?

He sure did. He became Brighton and Ireland’s youngest-ever Premier League goalscorer with his strike against Arsenal.

Then on Tuesday night, Ferguson became the youngest player to score in back-to-back Premier League matches since Manchester United’s Federico Macheda in 2009.

He also became the second-youngest player to both score and assist in a Premier League game after Liverpool’s Michael Owen in 1997.

When did he join Brighton?

Ferguson left Bohemians for Brighton in January 2021 and quickly rose through the underage ranks. He has netted 18 goals in 39 U-21 appearances to date and was named on the first-team bench for the first time in August 2021.

He became their youngest-ever Premier League player when he made his debut off the bench against Burnley last February.

He has got three goals and three assists in nine first-team appearances so far. Last October he signed his first long-term professional contract with the club, keeping him there until 2026.

When was he with Bohemians?

Ferguson came through the academy at St Kevin’s Boys and became the youngest player to make a first-team appearance (14) for Bohs against Derry City in September 2019.

Months earlier, he made his Bohemians debut aged 14 in a friendly against Frank Lampard’s Chelsea, ironically the same manager he scored against last night.

Ferguson won an U-17 league title with Bohs, netting a wonderful backheel in the final, while he also represented the club in the UEFA Youth League. He made four first-team appearances for Bohs in total before moving to Brighton in January 2021.

What about his Ireland career so far?

Ferguson represented the Boys in Green at U-21, U-17, U-16 and U-15 levels, and was part of Jim Crawford’s side that were beaten on penalties by Israel in the U-21 Euro play-off last September.

His form has caught the eye of Stephen Kenny too, who handed him a senior debut off the bench against Norway last November, while he also featured in the win over Malta three days later.

What has Stephen Kenny said about him?

“He is grounded, he seems to love playing football and it will be interesting to see how he does. We are still learning about Evan. He made his debut for Bohemians when he was very young, it’s gone well for him at Brighton, the next step is the hardest step.

“To get into the first team and play regularly, he’s up against international players in that position in (Leandro) Trossard and (Danny) Welbeck, it’s not easy. He seems to have a very good attitude. He’s a good professional, and that will help him,” said Kenny last November.

What has Roberto De Zebri said about him?

"He has big potential and I think he can help us in the second part of the season. With Danny Welbeck, he can be very important as our strikers.

"Evan could become a great striker because he has all the qualities, both physical and technical. It was a mature performance by Evan," he said after the win over Everton.

Who is his father?

His father Barry is a former Ireland U-21 international, and signed for Premier League side Coventry City from Home Farm in 1998. The defender was released at 22-years-old, and had spells at Colchester and Northampton before returning to Ireland in 2002.

There he played for Bohemians, Shamrock Rovers and Sporting Fingal, and also captained Longford Town to the 2003 FAI Cup before retiring in 2009.

What’s next for the striker?

In the short term, Brighton have an FA Cup third-round tie at Middlesbrough on Saturday (3.0), before they host an out-of-sorts Liverpool side the following week.

On the international front, if Ferguson can continue his good form for Brighton, he will give himself a very good chance of making Stephen Kenny’s squad in March, as Ireland host Latvia in a friendly, before Euro 2024 qualification begins against France at the Aviva.

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