Several clubs were queuing up to sign Rhian Brewster this January, when it became clear that Liverpool were looking to send him out on loan.
But Swansea City were the eventual choice, helped significantly by Brewster’s existing relationship with their manager Steve Cooper.
Cooper was head coach of the England Under-17s team that won the World Cup in 2017, a tournament that Brewster thrived in, finishing top-scorer and crediting Cooper with helping him perform so brilliantly on the world stage.
And Cooper exclusively told the Totally Football League Show this week about the process of signing Brewster, and what he is planning to do in order to get the best from the young striker.
“Obviously Rhian’s a player I know well, from my time with the national teams, which can be an important factor of these young players development now going on on loans.
“We spoke to Liverpool at length in the summer and they didn’t think it was the right time for him to go out then, but obviously it is now. We’re just really happy that we’ve been able to get over the line, and we can look forward.”
Brewster has said before that it was Cooper’s encouragement that gave him the confidence to score so many goals in 2017: eight in all, which included a hat-trick against the USA in the quarter-final, plus strikes in the semi and final, as England beat Spain 5-2.
“I think all players need that [arm around the shoulder]. That’s the certainly the culture we’re trying to create here at Swansea. We want the players to know how good they can be, and for them to really believe in themselves. And I think Rhian will be no different.
“I think what’s important with Rhian coming in is that, he’s a really good lad, but he needs to realise that he is joining a very proud club, a group of players that have already played a load of games and have gone through some ups and downs this season. He’s joining our journey, and he needs to become part of that.
“I’m very conscious that any players that we bring in here are not just the right profile of player that we need, but are the right character as well.”
Brewster is likely to be partnered up front by Andre Ayew, but despite rumours about his character and temperament, as well as frequent talk that he would be leaving the club, Cooper thinks Brewster will have a fine colleague to learn from.
“I’ve worked off the basis that you treat people as you find them. And Andre has been brilliant both on and off the pitch.
“From from day one, all he’s done is add value. His work rate is second to none. He’s more of an experienced player now so he was a real leader around the group.
“And obviously, it is about delivering on the pitch as well. He’s our top goal scorer, our biggest goal threat, and he really is leading the way in so many ways. I cannot speak highly enough of him. He epitomises what we want to be here – to play nice, attractive football, but equally working as hard as we can when we haven’t got the ball, and when there are difficult times we need players to stand and be counted. He’s done that.
“He’ll be the first to say that he’s just one of a team, and we’re very much about the collective here. We’re pleased to have him leading the way for us, with one or two others.”
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