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Who is Chile hero Ben Brereton? The Englishman taking on Messi & starring at the Copa America

11:00 EAT 19/06/2021
Ben Brereton Chile Copa America 2021
The 22-year-old popped up with the winning goal in his first start for the South American nation on Friday night

Chile got their first win of the Copa America on Friday night and it came courtesy of an unlikely hero.

After starting their campaign with a 1-1 draw against Argentina on Monday, Martin Lasarte's team claimed all three points with a 1-0 win against Bolivia in Group A.

And it was Blackburn Rovers' English striker Ben Brereton who popped up with the decisive goal 10 minutes into the clash in what was just his second appearance for Chile. So who is he? And why is he playing for Chile?

Where is Ben Brereton from?

Brereton, 22, was born in Stoke-on-Trent and began his professional career at Nottingham Forest.

His father is English but he is eligible to play for Chile because his mother was born in the South American country.

Why is Brereton playing for Chile?

Brereton featured for England at youth level, and he played a starring role at the Under-19 European Championship in 2017.

The Three Lions won that tournament, beating Portugal 2-1 in the final, with Brereton joint top scorer with three goals. The player of the tournament? Chelsea and current England international Mason Mount no less.

Despite his exploits at youth level, Brereton has not been in contention for a place in the senior Three Lions squad and instead opted to accept the call-up to play for Chile this year.

He was included in the squad for the first time in May and was an unused substitute in World Cup qualifying games against Argentina and Bolivia.

Brereton admits he barely speaks Spanish, however, and only knows "a little bit" of the Chilean national anthem.

"I have been learning keywords. They also provided me with the basic football words, and my understanding with my team-mates has been very good," he said, as quoted by the Lancashire Telegraph.

"Everyone has received me very well, both players and coaching staff.

"Obviously, I have talked more with [Watford defender] Francisco Sierralta, who speaks very good English and plays in the same division as me.

"I have also spoken a lot with [Monterrey defender] Sebastian Vegas, because I was with him the first night, and he also speaks very good English, but, in general, I have got along well with everyone."

He made his first appearance for Chile when he came off the bench late on against Argentina on Monday, but was named in the starting XI for the clash with Bolivia.

How did Brereton score his first goal for Chile?

Brereton struck the decisive goal in the early stages of the game.

Eduardo Vargas managed to knock the ball into his path as Chile charged towards the Bolivia goal.

Brereton was able to control the ball, steady himself and line up his shot before slotting home into the bottom corner.

"I think that for Ben it was an important occasion, it is difficult to play as a starter in a team where he does not speak the language," Lasarte said after the game.

"The team-mates are collaborating a lot. For him, it has been a very motivating situation from the point of view of anxiety.

"The role that Claudio Bravo plays, like others, is that he is close to him, communicating, trying to set guidelines for him on an idiomatic and cultural level as well."

Brereton's career to date

Brereton broke through at Forest in the second half of the 2016-17 campaign and impressed enough to earn a place in the England U-19 squad for the European Championship in 2017.

He played in every game and scored three goals as they went on to win the tournament with a team that included the likes of Mount, Reece James and Aaron Ramsdale, who are all members of the Three Lions' Euro 2020 squad Mount.

He scored eight goals in 53 appearances across two seasons in the Championship for Forest before being loaned to Blackburn, subsequently sealing a permanent move.

Brereton is coming off the back of his strongest season in the English second-tier, having netted seven times and registered four assists in the Championship in 2020-21. 

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