Mark Beard still recalls how Evan Ferguson reacted when told he was going to be world class.

The then Albion under-18s boss made that prediction as the young striker walked off after his first training session as a full-time player with the club.

Beard said: “I always remember telling him right there he was going to be world class.

“He just laughed and carried on walking!”

Beard, now boss at Eastbourne Borough in Vanarama National League south, has been doing the media rounds this week as everyone looks for an angle on Ferguson following his hat-trick against Newcastle.

He has told BBC 5 Live about the Cruyff-turn type shot which hit the bar when Ferguson first came over as a 14-year-old.

But the real work started after he signed for the Seagulls full-time early in 2021.

Beard believes he can recall the exact date – January 5.

He said: “In the first session he asked to do extra work after training.

“The boys had played a game the day before so it was quite a light session.

“We stayed out with him and did this drill where you have about 100 different disciplines.

“There was right-foot sidefoot finish, left-foot sidefoot, cross from the left, cross from the right, headers, sidefoot volley, volley with the laces.

“There was this Di Canio type thing where the ball comes over your shoulder.

"He scored pretty much every time, maybe just missed one or two.”

Tom McGill, who now works with the first team, and Fynn Talley, now of Peterborough United, were the goalkeepers being tested.

Both were England youth internationals although McGill has since opted to represent Canada.

Beard said: “Halfway through they were just watching shots go into the top corners.

“They weren’t even diving – there was no point.”

Beard’s memories have gone down well – although there was one quirky aspect.

Do any of his young players even know who Duncan Edwards was?

Because Edwards is the man to whom Beard compares Ferguson when asked.

Edwards was on course to become the world’s best player according to many judges when he was killed in the 1958 Munich air disaster.

Beard’s dad was a Manchester United fan who passed on tales of the young star.

Edwards was predominantly a defensive midfielder but could play pretty much any role and was employed as a centre-forward on occasion.

Equally, Ferguson played in various roles for his boys club St Kevin’s so that he learned not to rely on his height and physical strength.

Beard said: “When Evan came over I saw his stature and I remembered seeing pictures of Duncan Edwards and he was a real unit.

“He could play forward, midfield, centre-half, he could play everywhere. Evan reminded me of that.

“First game here, he played up front, second in midfield, third on the wing.

“We had him dropping into that hole like he does now. He reminded me of him.”

Ferguson is aware of the fuss he has created. He was listening to Beard on the radio.

“I called him after I had been on and he said, ‘Cheers, it came across really well’. He’s a great kid.”

Amid the media calls, Beard’s focus has not shifted from Borough, who have won twice in recent days to kick-start their season after a four-game losing run.

They backed up their 2-1 win over Weston-Super-Mare with a midweek success by the same scoreline after a dramatic finale at Havant and Waterlooville.

Borough conceded an equaliser from a penalty on 90 minutes but still had time to win it through Decarrey Sheriff.

Beard said: “I would have been so disappointed if we had drawn that game but the character of the boys was different class.

Fletcher Holman opened the scoring on 80 minutes, soon after Havant had James Roberts sent off.

Borough make the long trip to Yeovil tomorrow.