Evan Ferguson on his debut Premier League season, Harry Kane and transfer rumours
"It's just non-stop."
Evan Ferguson has been reflecting on his first Premier Lea gue season, starring for Brighton and playing under one of the best managers in Europe.
Ferguson 18, has enjoyed a sensational debut campaign in English football. The Bettystown native scored six goals in the Premier League, the most for a teenager last season, and scored 10 goals in total. He also made his Ireland debut and scored on his first start against Latvia in March.
Ferguson has gone from an up-and-coming striker, on the fringes of Brighton's first team, to one of the hottest properties in the game. He has been linked with clubs such as Manchester United and Chelsea, and compared to great centre-forwards such as Harry Kane, Erling Haaland and Alan Shearer.
Ferguson, however, has taken it all in his stride.
Evan Ferguson on his debut season and breakthrough game against Chelsea.
"It's gone very quickly, it was sort of a breakthrough season. It's been enjoyable," Evan told SportsJOE at LiveScore's Champions League Final preview event in Dublin.
Ferguson first made headlines in 2019 when aged 14, he played for Bohemians against Chelsea in a pre-season friendly at Dalymount Park.
The young striker took to the pitch against seasoned internationals and Premier League players. At the time, the decision to play such a young footballer in such a high-profile game was criticised by some.
Yet, Ferguson was no ordinary young footballer and the intervening years have since vindicated the decision. For the striker, it was a no-lose situation.
"It was just a blur," Ferguson said about the game.
"I didn't really understand that people would still be talking about it now. But people still bring it up now and want to talk about it.
"I just remember coming on for half an hour. I was just trying to get on (the ball) because no one expects a 14-year-old to do something.
"So I thought, 'If I play well, people will be talking about me'. But if I play badly, people won't expect anything from a 14-year-old.
"It was a win-win. I was getting experience playing against those types of players."
Ferguson has since made the step up to facing Premier League players every week in the English top flight. When asked what has surprised him the most about the division, he said the speed of play.
"The quickness of it," the Ireland striker said.
"Normally, when the ball goes out of play, you think you have a few seconds, but the ball's then being played over the top for someone. It's just non-stop."
Ferguson on De Zerbi.
Ferguson's transition into Premier League football has been aided by his manager, Roberto De Zerbi.
The Italian coach has been a revelation and helped Brighton qualify for European football for the first time in the club's history.
According to Ferguson, De Zerbi is the real deal, and he has been impressed with the manager's work on and off the training pitch.
"He hasn't really treated me any different, being a youngster," the Brighton striker said.
"But I think that helps me because I don't want to be treated any differently. He just talks to me as if he's talking to anyone else on the pitch.
"He's very good, he knows what he's talking about. He loves the game, he's very passionate about it, I think that definitely helps.
"We train tactics most days, so you know what you're doing (when you go on the pitch)."
Ferguson on the strikers he admires.
De Zerbi has vowed to help turn Ferguson into one of the best strikers in Europe. The Ireland striker is also a keen student of the game.
He says he has borrowed small aspects of play from his favourite strikers.
"I would've looked at (Wayne) Rooney and (Dimitar) Berbatov, just to try to get little bits from their game," he said.
"Obviously, now you see Kane and Haaland and all those types of players. So, it's just trying to get little bits from their game and bring it into mine.
"The way we play, (De Zerbi) he needs you to be adaptable and receive the ball in positions that most strikers wouldn't receive the ball in."
Kane, in particular, is a player Ferguson admires.
"Just the way he plays, what he's done this season, 30 goals for Spurs this season and they've been struggling, and I think it's unbelievable what he's done this season."
Ferguson was asked by Sky Sports if he would switch allegiance to England...
Nice try, but we reckon he's sticking with Ireland ☘️😅 pic.twitter.com/6eVZ76OBWa
— SportsJOE (@SportsJOEdotie) May 23, 2023
Ferguson on transfer rumours.
Ferguson has European football to look forward to next season, and is happy at Brighton, despite speculation linking him with a move away from the club.
"You can't do anything about it," Ferguson said about the transfer rumours.
"That's just clubs talking, people talking, rumours and stuff, it's not true until you see it on a piece of paper in front of you, so you can't really read too much into it."
"Everyone in the Brighton dressing room is sound," he said.
"Everyone gets on board with you, no one looks down on you. Especially (Lewis Dunk) Dunky, the skipper, he always looks after you."
Players leaving for big transfer fees is an accepted part of life at Brighton, and Ferguson admitted that his teammate Alexis MacAllister looks likely to be on the move this summer.
"A great player, I think most people know he will probably be gone at the end of the season. You see the rumours, and when they start talking about that much you have to feel that he's going to be gone."
Ferguson, however, is settled at Brighton and has a big future ahead of him for the Seagulls and for Ireland after shooting down suggestions that he would switch allegiances to England.
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