Ben Brereton has yet to pinch himself on how things have turned out for him over the past few months.
Well, actually, it’s Benjamin Anthony Brereton Diaz for you. The Stoke-born forward, who is featured in Blackburn’s books, made his presence felt at the Copa America earlier this summer.
Copa America, you say? Brereton qualified to represent Chile through his mother, but without the help of some computer game his international ambitions may never have been realized.
The 22-year-old received his first call-up in May, but it was in the popular Football Manager simulation series that he rose to prominence.
Blackburn Rovers FM21 scout Mark Hitch first spotted Brereton’s Chilean eligibility while browsing the club’s official day program.
“Every time something is posted, all my friends say to me, ‘This is great! You started it! Hitch told the Blizzard.
” I did [scouting] for Football Manager now for probably around 10 years. Rovers did a feature in the program called “A to Z”.
“Brereton was there and he said, ‘Technically I’m eligible for Chile. My mother is from Chile.
“So I was like, ‘This is just crazy. “So obviously, I was doing my update for Football Manager.” Second nationality: Chilean. “
“I think it was around November that he started getting comments on his Instagram.
“Just Chilean flags, all those random Chilean comments on ‘You have to play for Chile’ and ‘Brereton for Chile.’
“All these hashtags were starting. And a few of my friends were telling me that. I was like, ‘Wow. Can’t that be how it started? ‘ “
He continued, “I told the FM deputy researcher for Chile,” he said. “They said to me, ‘We have to get him out. We have to expose Ben [eligibility] on social networks. ‘
“We decided to launch a campaign on Twitch on a Friday night. And then it all exploded the following Monday.
“Ben started to appear in several Chilean newspapers. A TNT reporter had my number and he asked me, “Hey, is the story true?
“And I said to him, ‘Yeah, it’s real. Here we have the interview. I sent him the information, then he sent it on social media.
As they say, the rest is history: literally.
He impressed enough to receive a call to Chile’s Copa America squad, scoring their first-ever international goal in a 1-0 win over Bolivia.
Brereton swept the house 15 yards after being assisted by Eduardo Vargas in the group stage game after making his debut four days earlier against Argentina, where he faced Lionel Messi.
While La Roja’s dream ended in the hands of Brazil at 10 in the quarterfinals, Brereton’s frenzy certainly did not happen.
Brereton has now followed in the footsteps of global icons such as Lionel Messi and Ronaldinho by starring in a Pepsi commercial.
The 45-second clip shows Brereton leaving the UK to board a flight to Chile, which unsurprisingly was a big hit on social media.
Although not fluent in Spanish, the Rovers man uttered a sentence or two during the promo video, which, it must be said, is marketing gold dust.
Chile’s upcoming matches appear to face them against Brazil and Colombia in a double World Cup qualifier.
You have a feeling Brereton will be on that plane… one way or another.
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