Here at Shoot! we endeavour to keep a watchful eye over the emerging talents in world football and keep you in the know in terms of who you should be watching out for in the years to come.
Having already showcased the talents on the books of some of England’s greatest clubs, such as Manchester United and Chelsea, today we turn our attention to the midlands with Nottingham Forest’s next ‘big thing’.
Ben Brereton hit the headlines at the weekend, thankfully for all the right reasons.
The 17-year-old scored Forest’s match winner against Aston Villa (2-1) on Saturday night, firing the ball into the back of the net in the third minute of injury-time to celebrate his first goal in senior football.
Born in Stoke-on-Trent, the teenager came through Premier League outfit Stoke City’s youth ranks, though he was released by the Potters in the summer of 2015. What a mistake that looks to have been!
Who would come calling for Brereton’s services? Nottingham Forest.
Unbelievable moment for myself that! But must remember the teams hard work and desire to get the 3 points#NFFC
— Ben Brereton (@benbreo) February 4, 2017
The Championship club, who have now climbed up to 15th in the standings after the forward sealed back-to-back wins for the hosts, snapped up the striker, with the move proving very profitable within Forest’s development squad this term.
After remarkably scoring 14 goals in 19 games for the club’s Under-23 side this season, Brereton was rewarded with a new deal on December 31, 2016, although the length of his new contract wasn’t made public.
Why? Perhaps, because Premier League giants were keeping close tabs on the starlet. Manchester United and Liverpool were linked with moves for the talented teenager during the previous January transfer window.
Thankfully for the Forest faithful though, the club managed to keep hold of the forward, who went onto make his first-team debut against Leeds United on January 25, replacing Britt Assombalonga during The Whites’ 2-0 victory at Elland Road.
Brereton is the latest youngster to make a positive impact at the City ground, following in the footsteps of Matty Cash and Joe Worrall, who have made 19 and seven appearances in all competitions so far this season respectively.
Given Nottingham Forest’s continual off the field feuds aimed towards owner Fawaz Al-Hasawi, at least the emergence of the talented trio can give Forest fans plenty to cheer about and provide huge optimism for the future.
After Saturday’s heroics versus Villa, Brereton told Sky Sports, “I’m speechless.
“It’s great for me and the club. We needed the three points. I’m pleased.
“I’ve got to keep working hard and see where it gets me.”
Given that the club signed the attacking likes of Ross McCormack, Zach Clough and Gboly Ariyibi during the close of the January transfer window, and this is without even mentioning the likes of Assombalonga, Nicklas Bendtner and Apostolos Vellios already within Forest’s ranks, Brereton has some stiff competition to earn a spot in caretaker boss Gary Brazil’s starting XI.
However, team-mate Stephen Henderson has no doubt that the forward can hold his own and will inevitably only go onto bigger and better things.
“There is not a lot to say to him, because he just needs to keep doing what he is doing,” the goalkeeper told the Nottingham Post.
“He is a top lad, he is no big time Charlie. There were a lot of scouts here looking at him.
“But if anyone wants him, I imagine they are going to have to get their cheque book out and come up with something serious. Because he is going to be a good player.”
The 28-year-old added, “He is at it every day in training, nothing bothers him. We have good strikers here and he never looks out of place among any of them. He just needs to keep grounded.
“Us, as senior pros, have to gather around him and help him to get through that as best as we can. We will help keep him grounded.
“He has great people around him but he will get a lot of attention now because of his age and because of his ability.
“Ben has been superb. He can go right to the top in my opinion.”
Undoubtedly; we, and Henderson, believe Brereton can Shoot for the Stars.