Ben Brereton became Chile sensation after being spotted on Football Manager

Blackburn Rovers striker Ben Brereton has been a standout star for Chile at the Copa America this summer – and it’s all thanks to the Football Manager computer game.

Stoke-on-Trent born Brereton qualifies for the South American nation through his mother, who was born there.

He received his first call-up in May and was subsequently included in Chile’s squad for the Copa America, where he has so far played four times and scored once – netting the winner in Chile’s second match against Bolivia.

It’s been a whirlwind couple of months for the 22-year-old, and he owes it all to Football Manager.

Mark Hitch, Blackburn Rovers’ FM21 scout, first spotted Brereton’s Chilean eligibility while reading the club’s programme.

“Every time something gets posted all my mates are likes, ‘This is brilliant! You started this!’”, Hitch told The Blizzard.

“I’ve done [scouting] for Football Manager now for probably about 10 years. Rovers did a feature in the programme called ‘A to Z’.

“Brereton was on it and he said, ‘Technically I’m eligible for Chile. My mother is Chilean.’

“So I was like, ‘That is just bonkers.’ So obviously, I was doing my update for Football Manager. ‘Second nationality: Chilean.’

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“I think it was about November time he started getting comments on his Instagram. Just Chilean flags, all these random Chilean comments about, ‘You need to play for Chile’ and ‘Brereton for Chile.’

“All these hashtags were starting. And a few of my mates were telling me. I was like, ‘Wow. This can’t actually be how it started?’

A Football Manager streamer by the name of @ChileanToon discovered Brereton’s dual-nationality on the game’s beta version, and he quickly set to work notifying those who mattered.

“I told the assistant FM researcher for Chile” he said. “They told me, ‘We have to get him out there. We have to expose Ben’s [eligibility] on social media.’

“We decided to start a campaign over Twitch on a Friday night. And then everything blew up the next Monday.

“Ben started popping up in several Chilean newspapers. A journalist from TNT had my number and he asked me, ‘Hey, is the story real?’

“And I told him, ‘Yes, it’s real. Here, we have the interview.’ I sent him the information and then he sent it across social media.”

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“Basically my hashtag made everything blow up, for journalists to pick up information.

Hitch’s research had worked, and Brereton soon received his first call-up for the Chilean national squad.

“I got sent a few YouTube videos of news clips, where they were saying, ‘Oh we discovered it on Football Manager,” Hitch added.

“We didn’t know.”

Brereton and Chile can now look forward to the Copa America quarter-finals, where a date with destiny against Brazil could await.

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