Rhian Brewster has an eye-catching tattoo on his left hand of a clock along with a quote of special significance.
‘When I got injured I was out for a long time,’ Sheffield United’s new club record £23.5million striker said.
‘You look for stuff in your life that helps you and symbolises your life. The quote ‘timing is everything’ does symbolise it.’
Rhian Brewster believes his time is now as he prepares to return to Anfield on Saturday
The striker is going back to Liverpool with new side Sheffield United after moving for £23.5m
How he recovered from that untimely, shattering blow of the ankle injury that led to a 14-month lay-off to return a better and stronger player was proof of that.
More could come on Saturday at Anfield, especially if his return just three weeks after leaving Liverpool to kick-start his career, turns out to be another landmark occasion in his fledgling career.
‘It’s going to be a bit weird,’ Brewster, 20, said. ‘But it will be a nice moment, just to see everybody. I didn’t get to say goodbye because it [the transfer] happened so quick.’
Brewster joined Liverpool aged 14 and was immensely popular among players and staff for his infectious personality but also his considerable talent, his finishing ability in particular impressing his former team-mates.
In an ideal world, Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp would have liked to keep the young striker
Brewster joined Liverpool aged 14 and was immensely popular with players and staff
‘All the players say how good of a finisher I am and stuff like that. Coming from them, that is amazing,’ he said, puffing out his cheeks.
‘That means a lot but that’s not for me to take and be ok with, it’s for me to carry on doing what I’m doing, carry on working hard and practicing on it.’
The long list of Liverpool players he struck up good relationships with, both youthful and senior, was testament to his popularity.
In an ideal world, Jurgen Klopp would have liked to keep Brewster.
Unable to offer the regular football he needs, though, Liverpool could not stand in his way and Chris Wilder’s persuasive pitch helped convince the likeable Londoner that Bramall Lane was the best place for him.
Wilder this week praised Brewster for taking ownership of his career by moving on when it would have been easy to cling on at a big club.
However, Brewster was unable to force his way into a first team brimming with talent
Lessons learned from Klopp and the likes of Virgil van Dijk and Mo Salah left a big impression
Referring to a previous lament about ‘toilet-bag footballers’ whose accessory only contains expensive aftershave, deodorant and teeth-whitening toothpaste, Wilder praised Brewster for wanting to put ‘two, three and four hundred Premier League appearances in’ his. Brewster has arrived armed at Sheffield United with bags of potential and some priceless encouragement and experiences from his time at Liverpool.
Occasions such as their famous Champions League comeback against Barcelona, final triumph against Tottenham, last season’s FA Cup win against Everton and his debut against MK Dons were among those memorable ones he was involved in.
Lessons learned from Klopp and stars like Virgil van Dijk, Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and Mo Salah will never be forgotten either. James Milner also left a big impression.
Brewster said: ‘Not one person slacks off and I’ll always remember that. Even if I feel I want to.
The 20-year-old hopes a fresh start at Sheffield United can kick-start his fledgling career
‘For example James Milner. He’s in his 30s and still going strong. That’s for a reason. Because he is always in the gym, eating right, doing everything he can to be the best. That’s one thing that I’ll 100 per cent take from Liverpool and James Milner.
‘I would 100 per cent take that [longevity] and look what he is doing in his 30s and why can’t I do that?
‘The standards, they set the bar very high and that’s something I will never forget and hopefully people looking at me, when I’m older they will hopefully feel the same way.’
Thierry Henry was the player who inspired a young Brewster to dream of becoming a professional.
Meanwhile his dad Ian, a former goalkeeper for non-league Brimsdown FC at one stage, was another major football influence.
‘Who did he play for? ‘Nobody big! Don’t let him tell you that,’ Brewster laughed. ‘He was semi-pro. If he reads this he’ll be smiling. I always used to be on the side. Players on the bench used to kick the ball with me. By the time I was 12 I was the one warming him up. He didn’t like them warming him up because he said they were all rubbish, they couldn’t kick the ball straight!’
Brewster idolised Thierry Henry as a youngster and was converted from a winger to a striker
Brewster would have provided a genuine test of his dad’s shot-stopping skills. He was on Chelsea’s books by then.
Fast forward to 2017, and now at Liverpool and converted to a striker on the advice of Pep Ljinders having formally been a No 10 or winger, Brewster was spearheading the England Under-17 side that reached the Euros final and then won the World Cup.
‘Sanch [Jadon Sancho] just got a move to Dortmund, Phil [Foden] got player of the tournament, I got the Golden Boot [with eight goals],’ Brewster said. ‘Eyes were all around our team and what is going to happen next to them. There was a lot of talk about me making my debut.’
Then, at the start of the following year, injury struck. The setback and later knee complications that brought his progress to a shuddering halt and inspired the tattoo.
He is also inspired by England U17 team-mates Phil Foden (left) and Jadon Sancho (right)
The timing, it seemed, could hardly have been worse.
The progress of Sancho, Foden and another Under-17 team-mate, Callum Hudson-Odoi, into their club first teams and England’s senior sides, has only added to that sense.
‘The injury pushed me back,’ Brewster said. ‘Sanch was playing and got his England call-up, Phil was doing his thing for the first team and getting his opportunity. There was Callum.
‘They all had call-ups for England and of course that was what I was hoping but I got the injury.’
Yet Brewster made the best of a bad situation and his spell out work in his favour.
‘You get time to watch,’ he explained. ‘I watched a lot of football sat on the sofa not being able to do anything.
‘When you are watching a lot of football you pick up a lot of runs that other players are making and try to bring it all together in your own game. Physically I’ve grown, I’ve become wide and my legs are more powerful as I was still growing. That is how I have become a better player.’
Brewster’s first taste of regular, senior football came at Swansea City in the Championship
The youngster says his time in South Wales turned him from a little boy into a young man
The support he received from his mum Hulya, sister Jaylece, friends and ‘whole of Liverpool from the owners down’ while sidelined was also invaluable.
‘I can’t thank them enough,’ he said.
Confirmation that it had all helped him return new and improved came during his first taste of regular, senior football at Swansea last season, under his England Under-17 boss Steve Cooper, where he scored 11 goals in 22 games.
‘I was a little boy at the start [at Swansea] and I’ve grown into a young man,’ Brewster smiled.
‘People were saying “he got injured for that long time, can he still be the player he was before?” I have improved from the player I was before I was injured. For me, timing is everything.’
Now Brewster will hope to develop under the watchful eye of United boss Chris Wilder (above)
Wilder has praised his new £23.5m arrival for not wanting to be a ‘toilet bag footballer’
The responsibility and rewards that came with playing and scoring regularly at senior level gave Brewster a taste he wants more of.
That opportunity was not forthcoming at Liverpool but should be at Sheffield United.
He said: ‘When you’re scoring at 23s it’s good but when you’re scoring in men’s football in the papers, in the news, it’s a lot different because of where you’re doing it. You’re doing it in a bigger stage.
‘Now the Premier League is a bigger stage than the Championship and hopefully I can do the same in the Prem.
‘It was the right time for me to get out and try and prove myself in the Premier League.
‘I could have stayed at Liverpool and been in and around it, training, this week for Champions League and stuff like that.
‘Of course, I’ve left a lot of people behind at Liverpool that I loved seeing every day and it was a difficult decision but hopefully everyone else sees that I made the right decision to go to Sheffield United.’