The Exceptional Rise of Ben Brereton Diaz

Jacob Walstow

The Pre-Blackburn days

From a boy born in Stoke in 1999 to being beloved in the streets of Santiago, Ben Brereton Diaz has had a meteoric rise in the past 12 months. We take a look at how the 22-year-old’s career has developed, how he’s having the season of his life for Blackburn Rovers and Chile, plus where the young star's career could go next.

Starting his youth career with spells at Manchester United and hometown club, Stoke City, it was the switch to the East Midlands and Nottingham Forest that kick-started his career.

Making his debut against Leeds United aged 17 for Forest, Brereton had a first successful half-season for the Nottingham outfit, contributing seven goal involvements in 18 games. Forest were reluctant to hold onto their new prospect, however, and after his first full season at the club, they sold him to Blackburn Rovers for £7m which now seems to be one of the worst deals Forest have made in recent years.

The manager who gave Brereton his debut, Gary Brazil, tweeted about his delight that Brereton was living up to his potential.“

So pleased to see @benbreo becoming the elite player we always believed he would become.”

a man from stoke on the radar of Chile

Up until last season, Blackburn would have been questioning whether their investment in the Chile man was worthwhile, with Brereton only scoring nine goals in his first 90 for the club. The fortune of the 22-year-old finally changed in 2021, however, when Brereton got a sudden call from Chile national football director, Francisco Cagigao.

All this came about when the striker revealed that his mother was Chilean. Updates to his football manager profile led to his discovery in South America, and no one, even his colleagues at Blackburn could believe it.

“When I moved to Blackburn (in 2019), I told the lads I was eligible to play for Chile but nobody believed me,” Brereton stated to the Daily Mail.

Brereton was thrown into the deep end with Chile though, making his debut at the 2021 Copa America - the pinnacle of South American football. On his first start, the former United academy prospect made an instant impact, scoring the only goal in a 1-0 win against Bolivia and it was the stuff of dreams at this point.

An assist in his next game against Uruguay helped Chile qualify from the group as they made it to the quarter-finals.

Two further goals in World Cup qualifying for La Roja has left the country with a real chance of making it to Qatar, with four games left in qualifying. Moreover, his role as star striker for Chile has had a significant impact on his club career, making Brereton the most desirable player currently in the Championship, and in some ways, he's now an integral part of the Chile setup and a go-to man.

Is blackburn just the stepping stone?

The manager at Ewood Park, Tony Mowbray, has always been confident in the player’s potential.

Speaking after a win over Barnsley back in December, Mowbray stated:

“I think he’s matured rather than improved. He’s always had talent. We’re all delighted for him that he can take some accolades because it was a tough few years as he matured into the player he is today.”

The extraordinary season that Brereton is having has led to major speculation that a move to the Premier League in January was imminent. It wasn't, and he remains part of the Blackburn side battling it out for a return to the top flight with his stunning 20 goals in 30 games, which, of course, earned some Sky Bet players thousands from that famous bet at 500/1 for him to score 20+ league goals - such a bet in itself all but sums up his dramatic rise this past year.

Brighton, Leeds United, and Newcastle United have all been heavily linked with the striker as they either try to make it to Europe or ensure survival in the league. Now, in some way or another, it seems near enough guaranteed we'll see the Chile star in the top flight, either with Blackburn or another club. As of now, with Newcastle on the rise and with the money, it would take a lot for Brereton to turn that deal down.


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