We are in Bettystown, a town on the east coast of Ireland, 50 kilometers north of Dublin, in mid-June 2023. In the school “Colaiste na hlnse,” there is a quieter atmosphere than usual. At this point in the course, only a few children use the playground; Only a few of them need to be present to sit the final examination for the Irish school system. At that moment, one of the inspectors asks the teachers about a student he couldn’t find in the classroom. Evan Ferguson? The deputy principal replies, “He’s not here.” He scores goals at Aviva.
The Aviva is Ireland’s national stadium and is located in Dublin. There, the Irish team had just played Gibraltar in a Euro Cup qualifier, and 18-year-old Evan Ferguson was in the starting XI and scored a goal. In Bettystown, Ferguson is a local heartthrob, and all the youngsters know his name. It’s not for less. In his first season in the Premier League, he scored ten goals and provided three assists for Brighton, one of the hottest teams in the English championship who have achieved historic qualification for Europe.
Evan Ferguson excelled as a footballer from a young age, yet he has always managed to keep both feet on the ground, a factor highlighted by all who watched him grow up. At his school, he appeared every year for the selection tests for the football team that was already playing in the lower divisions of the Irish team. However, Evan always wanted to be treated as one of them. That’s why he never gave up his studies, no matter how complicated they were.
The Ferguson’s are a family of football players. His father, Barry, played center-back in England and Ireland until he retired at age 29 with a hip problem. His sister, Ellie, was her country’s youth captain and is now playing in the US while completing her university studies. His great-uncle Damien was part of the Manchester United squad in the 1960s, playing for George Best and Bobby Charlton, although injuries also led to his early retirement. Despite the great passion for football in Ferguson’s homeland, according to Evan, there was never any pressure. At the end of their last meeting, he confessed to the media that his father was the type to sit in a corner with his hat on to watch the game and that he never said a word to him about his performance or blamed him for it. “I knew he was there if I wanted to ask him something, but he never pushed me, and I think that helped me.”
Evan entered Saint Kevin’s Academy, one of the most prestigious in the country, at the age of five. His coaches knew from the start that they were holding a very special footballer who could one day make the leap into English football. It was like this. He made his first-team debut for the Bohemians at just 14, which was unthinkable for a footballer of his age. At 18, he is already the big star of his country, dreaming of qualifying for the Eurocup in summer 2024.
He shone under Roberto de Zerbi at his club, Brighton, last season. The Italian has a particular sensitivity when dealing with young footballers, and his style suits Ferguson’s forward profile well. This year the competition is even tougher with new signings Joo Pedro and Ansu Fati, but it doesn’t look like young Evan will dwindle. In his last game against Newcastle, he scored a hat-trick and gave his side the win. He was the fourth-youngest player in Premier League history to do so. But de Zerbi doesn’t stick with his goals; he sticks with the way Ferguson understands the game. “When the opponent plays in 4-4-1-1, it’s the striker who has to exploit the space, and Evan understood that perfectly.” He is working to complete his qualities. Not only as a goalscorer, he can also be a really great player.” Everything indicates that the Evan Ferguson era has only just begun.