Blackburn Rovers fans were no doubt fearful when they found out Adam Armstrong would be leaving the club for Premier League pastures. Southampton came calling, and the man who scored 49 goals in three seasons for Rovers departed Ewood Park, leaving a gaping goalscoring hole behind him.

The team needed a new hero in front of goal, and thankfully, Ben Brereton Díaz has stepped up to the mark. The Chile international has become something of a cult hero in football due to his exploits in South America, despite being born in Stoke and representing England at youth level.

This season he has taken his scoring stats to another level, bagging 13 goals in 17 Championship appearances this season, which is hugely impressive when you consider his previous best total in the second tier was seven.

Indeed, Blackburn have gone from strength to strength this season, even without Armstrong. They are currently seventh in the Championship table at the time of writing, on the cusp of the play-offs, and if the EFL Championship betting with Betfair is anything to go by, they could be in with an outside chance of promotion.

Tony Mowbray is the longest-serving manager in the Championship, and it’s clear that the stability in Blackburn’s coaching setup is yielding results. So often, we see second-tier clubs chopping and changing their managers on a frequent basis, but Mowbray serves as proof that there is value in standing by your man through the highs and lows — which inevitably arrive in a league as competitive and demanding as the Championship.

With Brereton in such fine form, Mowbray will have eyes on the prize that is promotion to the Premier League, and if the goals keep flying in, who’s to say the Chile forward won’t be a top-flight player next season? It seems as though representing the country of his mother’s birth has given him a new lease of life, having been lacking in confidence somewhat in prior campaigns.

The story behind Brereton’s rise to stardom in Chile is an amusing one. Having discovered the striker’s dual nationality on the popular game Football Manager, a group of Blackburn fans began campaigning on social media for Brereton to be called up to the international squad. Eventually, coach Martín Lasarte took a chance on the Rovers man, including him for World Cup qualification fixtures, and since then Brereton hasn’t looked back.

The 22-year-old was superb at the 2021 Copa América, bagging the winning goal in Chile’s 1-0 win over Bolivia, and he made himself a nuisance for opposition defenders throughout the tournament. Since then, he has notched two further international goals in World Cup qualifying wins against Paraguay and Venezuela. Chile are currently just outside the qualification places in the CONMEBOL table, but there is still time to turn things around, and we could see Brereton line up at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

Meanwhile, he’ll have his sights firmly set on helping Blackburn towards their target of promotion to the Premier League. This season marks ten years since the club were relegated from the top flight, and despite their being doom and gloom following the departure of Armstrong in the summer, Blackburn have a new goalscoring hero to rally around, who could yet fire them back where they feel they belong.

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