COMETH the hour, cometh the man.
Just 17 minutes later, after forcing the usually steady William Saliba into an error and shrugging the 6ft4in defender aside, he calmly slotted past England keeper Aaron Ramsdale.
But the teenager has never had any regards for his opponent’s reputations in the past.
As a plucky 14-year-old, Ferguson made a memorable cameo against Chelsea in a preseason friendly for Irish side Bohemians.
Since being snapped up by Brighton in January 2021, after the Seagulls fought off Liverpool to sign the talent, the 6ft powerhouse has gone on to play eight times for the Premier League side.
While back in November, Ferguson made his debut for the Republic of Ireland in a 2-1 friendly defeat against Norway.
Burst onto the scene
It was Frank Lampard’s Chelsea that saw the whirlwind Ferguson can be firsthand.
The focus was supposed to be on the manager – who was managing the club he loved and played for – for the first time.
Ferguson stole the headlines though.
The boy, who is younger than Facebook, was introduced on the hour mark. Again. And he put the frighteners up Kurt Zouma and Davide Zappacosta.
Leading the line on his own, he came close to scoring when a whipped shot went narrowly wide of the far post.
He then had the awareness to dummy a pass for a team-mate to score a last-minute equaliser.
Recalling that day to The 42, Ferguson revealed: “I think it sort of blew up a little bit. I didn’t know I was going to play, I knew I was on the bench but I didn’t know if I was going to come on or this, that or whatever. It was all sort of… Everyone knew about it at the time.”
Keeping him grounded
With speculation rife about Premier League interest, Ferguson had to keep his feet on the ground.
It was his dad, Barry who offered that support.
His father was an ex-pro, who played for Coventry City, Colchester United and others.
“He was good with me growing up, he wouldn’t put too much pressure on me, really, say ‘you have to do this or that’,” Ferguson said.
“If I wanted anything or needed to chat to him he’d be there but I wouldn’t say there is that much pressure, I don’t think anyone really expects anything of a young kid playing in that game — if you do it, it’s more of a bonus.”
Brighton made their move in – beating a host of Premier League rivals to his signature – 2021
After making his debut in August that year as a substitute against Championship side Cardiff City in the EFL Cup second round, he scored his first goal a year later in the same competition against Forest Green Rovers.
Following the final whistle, his former manager Graham Potter said: “He is an intelligent player for someone so young.
“You look at him and you have to remind yourself he is only 17, so he’s got an exciting future, I think.
“He’s level-headed and a humble guy who again wants to just play football, wants to score goals, help the team, so he has got lots of nice attributes, good movement, intelligent, so we are happy with him.”
Now, since turning 18 just a few months ago, Ferguson has his eyes on more goals to add to his first in the Premier League against the league leading Gunners.
“A disappointing result, obviously we wanted to win the game, but on a personal level it’s good to get the goal,” he told Brighton’s website.
“At the end we could have, depending on the offside goal, had another chance at it but that’s the way it goes.
“I’m buzzing to get the goal. Hopefully I can just keep going and try and get another.”
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