The Rise Of Brennan Johnson: From Sincil Bank To The Premier League

Brennan Johnson’s rise from Lincoln City to Premier League entertainer with Nottingham Forest has been rapid. In the space of three seasons, the 21-year-old has gone from strength to strength and is now shining on the biggest stage.

Not to mention that he has only had a number of seasons in professional football and he has already had 18 caps for Wales. But where did it all start for Johnson and what does the future hold?

He made the move to Sincil Bank ahead of the 2020/21 season on a season-long loan move. A year before this move, he made his debut for the Tricky Trees in a 2-1 defeat to West Bromwich Albion aged just 18, showing trust was put in him from an early age.

In a very short space of time with the Imps, he matured into a lightning-quick winger who put fear into all of his opponents. Johnson scored his first goal in a Lincoln shirt against Plymouth Argyle with a headed finish and it was to be the first of many.

The tricky wide-man went on to score 10 as well as assisting 12 in 40 League One appearances and was key in Lincoln’s push for promotion. The Imps eventually fell short in a 2-1 play-off final defeat to Blackpool but Johnson, alongside Manchester City loanee Morgan Rogers, caught the eye for their brave attacking play.

Heading into the following campaign, many clubs were looking for Johnson’s signature on loan or a permanent basis, according to Football Insider. However, he opted to stay at the City Ground in search of first-team action in Nottinghamshire. It didn’t get off to the best of starts though as then manager Chris Hughton stated that ‘he is not ready for the Championship.’ How wrong he was.

Hughton was sacked in September 2021 after a dismal start to the season which coincided with Forest having their worst start to a season since 1913. Steve Cooper was brought in and the rest is history as Johnson became an integral part in earning promotion to the top flight. In 49 Championship appearances that season, the Welsh youngster reached double figures in both goals and assists, notching 18 and ten respectively.

Johnson was ready for the step up to the Premier League. He had taken League One by storm, and then a season later, did the same in the Championship. Before the season commenced, Johnson penned a new four-year contract that would keep him in the Midlands until 2026. He repaid that faith with his first Premier League goal against Everton in August, calmly slotting past Jordan Pickford to give them the lead.

Nottingham Forest struggled to adapt to the new climate of the Premier League and they only won once in their first 11 games. In more recent times, Cooper’s side have struggled and find themselves fixed in a pulsating relegation battle. If they are to have any chance of staying up, Johnson will be relied upon to secure safety.

Even though he has been slightly inconsistent this season, Johnson has scored eight in 30 Premier League appearances. Even if Forest remain in the Premier League, Johnson will be a wanted man come the summer – and even more so if they suffer relegation.

Despite Wales bowing out at the group stages in the 2022 FIFA World Cup, Johnson got his first taste of major tournament football, making three appearances off of the bench. Some have even tipped him to fill the boots left by Gareth Bale after his retirement from international football.

Writer’s view

Johnson has superb ball-carrying skills as well as rapid pace which no Premier League defender wants to come up against. This is emphasized when he registered the fastest speed of any Premier League player this season with 36.7km/h.

Also, he has made the most appearances of any Forest player in the Premier League this season. He has a very bright future ahead, whether that is with Forest or not.

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About Jack Patmore 24 Articles
Billericay Town Media Assistant | Work for The Non-League Paper, VAVEL, Phoenix FM & others | Part of The Football Writers Association | BBC Young Reporter Winner 2023

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