Rhian Brewster: 'I've never seen a player like him before'

Rhian Brewster

Whatever else Liverpool forward Rhian Brewster does in his career, he has already achieved something remarkable.

Two successive hat-tricks at a major Fifa tournament - the second in a semi-final in front of 63,881 spectators - has got the football world buzzing and has transformed this 17-year-old into a headline act before he has even kicked a ball at senior club level.

The footballer from Chadwell Heath, whose hero was Arsenal's Thierry Henry, now leads the race for the 'golden boot' at the Under-17 World Cup going into Saturday's final against Spain.

With the hype surrounding him, has he got the character to make the next step? And how good can he be?

BBC Sport tracked down his proud father Ian and his former coach who believe the player is worthy of the attention.

'Rhian is a happy-go-lucky chappy'

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Brewster's father Ian watched his son's feats in India from the USA, but said he had been in constant contact.

"I've been messaging throughout the tournament," he said.

"Before he scored the goals in the quarter-final against USA, I messaged him saying, 'it's about time you turned up to the party', and added, 'big games require big players'. He answered me with a hat-trick."

Brewster grew up on the border of London and Essex, and attended Chadwell Heath Primary School before developing his talents at Chadwell Heath Academy and the Shield football academy.

"He started kicking a football at the age of two or three after watching me play as a goalkeeper," added father Ian.

"Since then, he has lived and breathed the game - the sort of kid that takes a football to bed. But when you get to know him outside the game, he's so unassuming and he doesn't talk about his exploits after a match. He's a happy-go-lucky chappy."

The youngster was spotted by a Chelsea scout at the age of eight, having also been watched by Arsenal, West Ham and Charlton, according to his father.

But after eight years with the Blues, the decision was made to join Liverpool.

"When he was at Chelsea, I didn't see anybody get through right to the top level," added Ian.

"I asked Rhian: 'If you got £10,000 at Chelsea or £5,000 at, let's say, Watford but played in front of big crowds, which would you choose?' He said 'Watford' straight away. That told me that he wanted to play football at the highest level, no matter where."

'I've never seen a player like Rhian'

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Another key figure who helped develop Rhian was Shield coach Dan Seymour, who said that the forward was the best who had come through the academy doors at Barkingside.

"It wasn't long after I opened Shield that one of the players asked if he could bring a close family friend to the academy, and that was Rhian," Seymour told BBC Sport.

"He was scouted in the first two minutes of his first game after rounding the entire opposition, scoring and then grabbing the ball and putting it back on the spot.

"In the time it took that to happen, Martin Taylor, the academy scout at Chelsea, approached his dad and me, and said he wanted him immediately."

Top scorers at Under-17s World Cups this century
2001Florent Sinama Pongolle (France)
2003Cesc Fabregas (Spain)
2005Carlos Vela (Mexico)
2007Macauley Chrisantus (Nigeria)
2011Souleymane Coulibaly (Ivory Coast)
2013Valmir Berisha (Sweden)
2015Victor Osimhen (Nigeria)

Seymour believes Brewster has all the necessary attributes to make the grade.

"He has natural flair and is very talented in many, many ways," he added. "He looked like a footballer at seven - the way he stood and moved. He was fearless and was delighted to take players on.

"He's also a very well mannered young man and comes from a humble family.

"I've yet to see another player as good as him in all the time I've been at the academy."

'He's done the country proud'

Brewster was promoted from Liverpool's Under-18s into the Under-23s this season, and scored a hat-trick for the first team in a friendly behind closed doors against Accrington Stanley.

Praise has come from Reds academy coach and club legend Steven Gerrard and senior team manager Jurgen Klopp, who described Brewster as "physically stronger, wonderfully skilled boy, real striker, good finisher, fantastic work ethic and all that stuff".

Father Ian added: "He's loving Liverpool and everyone loves him there. People say he's always smiling when he's playing. That's because I used to say to him to go and enjoy himself.

"Win lose or draw, he's done me proud, his family and friends proud and the country proud."

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