Brighton boss De Zerbi praises “unique” Albion wonderkid

Evan Ferguson Brighton

Brighton manager Roberto de Zerbi has heaped praise on young Seagulls striker Even Ferguson, labelling the promising frontman as “unique” following another impactful display for the club from the teenager.

Albion battled their way to a 1-0 win at Stoke City in the FA Cup on Tuesday evening and 18-year-old Ferguson grabbed the game’s only goal to book Brighton a place in the FA Cup quarter-finals.

Ferguson put Brighton in front after half an hour when he added the finishing touch to a slick passing move from the visitors. Ferguson has now scored five times in all competitions for his club this season, four of which arrived inside his last nine runouts.

De Zerbi lauds special Ferguson

In the post-match media scrum in midweek, Brighton boss Roberto De Zerbi was quick to heap praise on the forward from the Republic of Ireland, saying: “He is unique for us in terms of quality, in terms of characteristic. He knows very well the way to score.

“I think he can and he has to improve, in the quality of play, in ball possession, to keep the ball better.

“But he is 18, he is (born in) 2004, and he will improve for sure, because I know the guy, I know his passion, his attitude, and I have no doubt.”

Ferguson doesn’t turn 19 until October and the prodigiously talented greenhorn has been going from strength to strength since making his Premier League start against Everton in January – an occasion the lethal finisher marked in typical style with a goal and an assist.

De Zerbi discusses Brighton’s chances in the FA Cup

Brighton have never managed to land a major trophy in the history of the club, though they are on course their highest-ever Premier League finish this term. Some silverware would be the icing on the cake and a reward for their stellar work however, and De Zerbi said he and his players will endeavour to bring the cup to the south coast.

“I can promise nothing but I can promise every day we work hard to make them (the supporters) happy and proud of their team, their club – only this,” said the Italian.

“I understand they want to win the trophy, and we also want to win, but to win, we need to work, to improve and to believe. But for the moment we have to think only of West Ham (who Brighton host in the league on Saturday), because we have the possibility to arrive in Europe.”

Brighton reached the final of the FA Cup just once before back in 1983 when they met Ron Atkinson’s Man Utd team of that era, which contained Ray Wilkins, Bryan Robson and Norman Whiteside among others.

Albion plundered a late equalizer in the teams’ first encounter at Wembley Stadium in an eventual 2-2 draw with United, before the Red Devils put four goals without reply past the Seagulls in the replay five days later.

More recently, Brighton reached the competition’s semi-finals in 2018/19, however, they were eliminated in rounds three, five and four in the seasons that followed.

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