FEW footballers will have a full senior debut quite as notable as Nathan Broadhead’s for Burton Albion - and the on-loan Everton man is keen to make an impression with the Brewers.
Broadhead netted twice in two minutes in our 2-1 win over Gillingham this afternoon, starting on the left-wing and netting an absolutely stunning first, a curling right-footer to the far-right corner from 20 yards.
His second was almost a classic poacher’s finish - getting in the right position on a run to the near post and turning home Ryan Edwards’ low cross.
It could have been a hat-trick, had a late free kick gone inches lower, but Broadhead had plenty of reason to celebrate at full-time and with the Brewers fans, too.
“Everyone has to believe in themselves, even if you’re a first-team player or an Academy player,” said Broadhead.
“You have to believe in yourself and hopefully you can get a chance.
“It was a great experience for me, playing and starting, and I enjoyed it.
“The fans are who I want to play in front of, if it's 100 fans or 60,000 fans. It was a great experience for me and hopefully there’s many more goals to come.”
Broadhead’s career began at a junior level playing for Wrexham and Bangor, for whom his grandfather Tony - described as a powerful striker - played in the 1960s.
The Welsh U21 international became a first-year scholar at Everton in 2014 and has since impressed for the Toffees’ U23s.
Highly rated at Goodison Park and by Everton’s fans, too, if social media is any indication, the 21-year-old from Bangor wants one day to play for the Toffees, having played under manager Marco Silva and Duncan Ferguson, but is focused on developing as a player at Burton Albion.
“I’m from Bangor - my Grandad used to play for Bangor City and he’s a bit of a club legend there,” said Broadhead.
“I used to play for Wrexham when I was about 10, then I got scouted from there.
“That’s what I’ve always wanted to do since I was young - play at Goodison Park - and I have played there in the Sportpesa Cup, and scored!
“I just want to play in front of fans at the highest level possible.
‘Marco Silva is a very good manager and I enjoy working under him and I think he gets the best out of me, and (Duncan Ferguson) is a club legend, isn't he? I enjoyed playing under him as well.
“Getting men’s football under my belt and doing as good as possible, helping the (Brewers) get points on the board, that’s what I want.”
Playing for Nigel Clough was clearly an attraction to Broadhead, given his father’s allegiances on a football perspective.
“His dad is a hero to my dad,” said Broadhead. “He’s a Nottingham Forest fan.
“That’s what you need - a manager to believe in you and I’m thankful to Nigel for giving me a chance here.”
And you may not be surprised that an attacking midfielder, who often found himself on the wing, was Broadhead’s hero growing up.
“Ronaldinho used to be my favourite player, doing all his tricks and stuff,” said Broadhead. “So I looked up to him!”
The 23-year-old picked up a serious hamstring injury in mid December and has only recently become available again to Alex Neil.
It does seem to be a delicate one, with Broadhead not featuring in the last two matchday squads since making his return from injury.
Entering the final year of his contract at Goodison Park next season means that this loan spell is very important for Broadhead’s future, looking to showcase his ability in League One before pursuing a permanent move in the summer.
At this stage of his career, and with his contract situation, any future first team involvement at Everton is very unlikely and the 23-year-old has performed very well to prove himself as an effective third tier forward.
Broadhead is comfortable playing centrally or off of either flank and has chipped in with eight goals for the Black Cats, at a very impressive 0.57 goals per 90 minutes according to Wyscout. Broadhead has shown an elite finishing ability for the level, that will certainly have turned the heads of Championships clubs looking for a summer bargain, to score eight goals from just 3.64 expected goals (xG), including a beautiful chip against Arsenal in the Carabao Cup.
It seems unlikely that Broadhead will be loaned out again next season, with him potentially available on a free transfer at the end of next season, so from an asset management point of view, the best chances for the Toffees to recoup a significant fee will be this summer.
There is a chance that Everton wait to see what division they are in next term before making a decision because of the threat of relegation to the second tier.
Broadhead would certainly stand a more realistic chance of pushing for some first team opportunities with Everton in the Championship, and his future could take a completely different turn to what is expected if the Toffees can keep their heads above water.