Ben Brereton: The Stoke-born forward now a sensation in Chile

Last update on. From the section FootballBen Brereton had an amazing summer.Blackburn Rovers striker, who was a Copa America national hero, just returned from lightening up the Copa America. Chile reached the quarter-finals.He was once the top goal scorer for England's Under-19s in the Euros. Now he is playing against Neymar, Lionel Messi and boasts an army of fans on social media. He is also the face of Pepsi Chile.He uses the surname BreretonDiaz when playing for Chile - following the Spanish tradition of using his father's or mother's surname. This is what he has now decided to do with his club.He says that he would have believed him if he had told it to me 12 months ago."It was a wonderful experience that I will never forget.""Not your stereotypical footballer"Benjamin Anthony Brereton was a child of a Chilean mother, and an English father. He was born in Stoke-on-Trent in April 1999.He was a graduate of Blythe Bridge High School, and he was a student at Stoke City and Manchester United as a teenager.Alex Jackson, the senior leader of the school, first met him at nine years old.Jackson says Jackson: "He's not a stereotypical footballer." Jackson says that Jackson's head was firmly in the right place and that he was determined for success."His family is supportive and would have kicked his backside if it wasn't for him working hard."His release from the Potters was a disappointment for his Stoke family, but he soon moved to Nottingham Forest to be able to join the England youth setup.He was a fixture in the Under-19 side with Chelsea star Mason Mount. He scored three times during their successful Euro campaign 2017.Blackburn paid 7m to acquire him in 2019 for his performances at Forest and his 57 Forest appearances.Brereton (centre), who was then 18 years old, scored a penalty to torture the Arsenal defense in a 4-2 FA Cup win in January 2018.Since then, it has not been easy. The price tag was heavy and a series of injuries have limited him to only two goals in his two first seasons at Ewood Park.Rich Sharpe, Blackburn correspondent of the Lancashire Telegraph, says that he was not given the time to do so.He was not a fit person when he arrived. He wasn't sure how to use his body to his benefit.Brereton was an important player in last season's championship. He made 43 appearances across all competitions and scored seven goals.Sharpe says, "Now, he uses size to bounce off opponents"Brereton Diaz 'fever' in ChileIt was noticed in Chile.An eagle-eyed researcher trawled through Football Manager and a club interview from 2019, Brereton's eligibility to Chile was highlighted on social media last November.Brereton was invited suddenly to the Copa America after the campaign gained momentum.He admits that he couldn't refuse the opportunity.His large frame, persistent pressing and ability to get past defenders adds an additional dimension to Chile's small skillful attack.Cecilia Lagos, a Chilean journalist thinks he might be the player they need since Marcelo Salas or Ivan Zamorano both retired.She explains that "we've really missed an killer de rea," literally a box killer. That haunted us for many years."Brereton is so energetic, so active he fits like an old glove."This is despite not being able to speak the language, culture or visit tourist sites.He says, "I had only been to Chile once when I was six months." It was nerve-wracking but I soon settled in once I had met the coaches and other players."They wouldn't let me sing Feliz Navidad so I did Wonderwall. Not sure anyone knew what was happening!"Brereton said it was an honour to play against Lionel Messi, Neymar, and train with Alexis SanchezWhat if he turned his back on England's set-up?He says, "It was a no-brainer for me." "I can understand England's pull, but Chile wanted me. It's a chance for my family to be proud."Even my father is buzzing, he told me it was okay."His Copa debuts were spectacular. A lively cameo against Argentina earned him a start against Bolivia where he was a composed winner."People recognized me, and I received insane support via social media."Brereton's Instagram following soared from 80,000 up to 800,000. Chile lost the quarter-finals to Brazil by a narrow margin.He explains that Covid restrictions prevented us from interacting with fans in person. "But they could send presents - I received over 50 different boxes chocolates."In a newly-released commercial, he's also the face of Pepsi.His standing was solidified by a heartwarming encounter with a Chilean fan youngster.He said that pictures were taken of a boy who had made a Brereton 22 shirt from masking tape."He was there at the airport at exactly the same time as us, so I got the Chile media folks to send him an email and was able give him the shirt in which I scored my goal."That was a very special moment."Brereton was present for Chile five times in Copa America. He scored once and assisted another."It's Brereton Diaz fever," Lagos says. "Chileans are very welcoming of foreigners, especially if they're half Chilean.They expect him to score goals, but if he doesn’t, it will end the honeymoon period."Brereton wants a better campaign for Blackburn who was 15th in Championship last season.He says, "We must build and be consistent." "I feel motivated to return to Copa America because I have confidence from playing in the Copa America."The Qatar World Cup 2022He says, "Hopefully, you'll be called up for the qualifiers." "And then, we'll watch what happens."