Reece Brown (footballer, born 1996)
Brown pictured in August 2016
|Full name||Reece Brown|
|Date of birth||3 March 1996|
|Place of birth||Dudley, England|
|Height||5 ft 9 in (1.75 m)|
|Forest Green Rovers|
|–||Sedgley White Lions|
|2014||→ Notts County (loan)||3||(0)|
|2017||→ Chesterfield (loan)||2||(0)|
|2017–||Forest Green Rovers||7||(1)|
|* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 11:03, 15 October 2017 (UTC).
Reece Brown (born 3 March 1996) is an English footballer who plays for Forest Green Rovers of League Two. A midfielder, he made his senior debut for Birmingham in the Football League in September 2013, and spent time on loan at League One clubs Notts County in September 2014 and Chesterfield in early 2017. He has represented England at under-16, under-17, under-18 and under-20 level.
Early life and club career
Brown was born in Dudley, West Midlands, where he attended Jesson's Primary School and then Dormston School in the Sedgley area. As a boy, he played football for Sedgley White Lions, and he joined Birmingham City at the age of ten. After leaving school, he took up a scholarship with the club in July 2012. His goal against West Bromwich Albion's youth team helped Birmingham reach the last 16 of the FA Youth Cup; they lost to Norwich City's youngsters in that round. His fellow first-year scholar Liam Truslove was given a professional contract at the end of the 2012–13 season, but Brown was not. Academy manager Kristjaan Speakman suggested there were parts of his game that needed improvement: "Over the last few years, he has always been regarded as a ball-playing midfielder, very comfortable in possession and able to retain it. What the manager wants from his midfield players is the ability to affect the game out of possession as well." In a July 2013 interview, Brown concurred: he rated his best quality as "what I can do on the ball", and felt he needed to improve his mental strength.
After impressing in training ahead of the new season, Brown produced two goals and set up another for Reece Hales in a development squad pre-season friendly against Solihull Moors. This earned him inclusion in the first-team training group, and he was given a squad number and played the last few minutes of the senior friendly against Hull City. He was named among the substitutes for Birmingham's Championship defeat at Queens Park Rangers in September, ahead of the likes of Scott Allan and Matt Green, and according to manager Lee Clark, "he was very close to getting on the pitch". He did get on the pitch in the next match, away at Burnley on 17 September, replacing Darren Ambrose in the 51st minute, just after Birmingham went 2–0 down; the match ended 3–0. In a poor team performance, Clark suggested that Brown was "the only player who has probably enhanced his reputation from the night. He came on and showed his ability, showed no nerves and was competitive".
On his first league start, on 18 January 2014, Brown was man of the match, albeit in a losing cause at home to Yeovil Town, and he impressed a week later in the FA Cup defeat to Premier League club Swansea City. Between those two matches, he signed his first professional contract with Birmingham, a two-and-a-half-year deal to run until 2016.
Notts County loan
After playing in just one of Birmingham's first six games of the 2014–15 season, Brown joined League One club Notts County on a youth loan, initially for a month. He went straight into the starting eleven and played the first 64 minutes of the weekend's match against Bristol City, which Notts lost to a stoppage-time penalty. Two days later, in the Football League Trophy against League Two opponents Mansfield Town, he was used as a playmaker. According to the Nottingham Post, he "revelled in his role as number ten and played with real maturity. Was a real threat whenever he received the ball and came close to scoring with a header", and was named man of the match by both newspaper and club. He made four starts in all before his loan was cut short because of injury.
Return to Birmingham
Gary Rowett, who replaced Clark as manager soon after Brown's return to Birmingham, included the player among the substitutes for his first match in charge, though he remained unused. In February 2015, while praising Brown's technical skill and ability with the ball, Rowett felt he needed to improve off the ball, especially because of the physical nature of Championship football, and to prove himself in training. He selected him once more that season, in the absence of midfielders Stephen Gleeson and Diego Fabbrini and in recognition of his improvement in training, again on the bench for a 4–2 defeat at AFC Bournemouth in April. By November, Brown had played just six minutes of first-team football, in the League Cup second round, and Rowett had spoken publicly of his lack of professionalism in matters such as punctuality. His application improved, and on 21 November, he made his first appearance in the Championship for more than a year, as a 72nd-minute substitute with Birmingham 1–0 down at home to Charlton Athletic.
Having had no more first-team involvement, Brown joined Premier League club West Ham United on trial in January 2016, and made a promising appearance in a development squad match against Brighton & Hove Albion. He also spent time with AFC Bournemouth, and was reported to have attracted interest from Manchester City. In March, Birmingham City suspended Brown pending the outcome of an internal investigation into his "conduct and levels of professionalism." He returned to the development squad and, according to Rowett, he was working harder. At the end of April, the club offered him another year on his contract, which was due to expire; he signed the extension in June.
Brown was not included in the first-team training camp in Spain, reportedly because Rowett "wanted him to work for his opportunities", but his pre-season performances earned him a place on the bench for the opening fixture of the new Championship season, at home to Cardiff City. He replaced David Cotterill after 71 minutes, and came close to creating a winning goal when he cut the ball back for debutant Jack Storer who narrowly failed to touch it past the goalkeeper; the match finished goalless. In September, Brown made his first start for Birmingham in two-and-a-half years, in a 2–2 draw away to Preston North End. He took his appearance total for the season to eight before Rowett was replaced as manager by Gianfranco Zola; thereafter, his only outing was as a second-half substitute in a losing cause at Newcastle United in the FA Cup.
Zola agreed to let Brown go out on loan, at the player's request, because he thought it could "be good for his maturity to go and play in a real difficult situation where he is going to be pushed to improve. Not only as a footballer but his character and temperament as well." Brown joined League One club Chesterfield on 31 January 2017 on loan until 30 April. He made two appearances, both as a second-half substitute in a home defeats to Oldham Athletic and Bury, before manager Gary Caldwell confirmed in mid-March that after "a few incidents", the club felt it was best Brown went back to Birmingham. The club confirmed that he would be released when his contract expired at the end of the season.
Forest Green Rovers
On 1 June 2017, Brown signed for recently promoted League Two club Forest Green Rovers on a one-year contract. He made his debut on the opening day of the 2017–18 season, in the starting eleven for a 2–2 draw at home to Barnet. Brown scored his first senior goal on 19 August, "with a well-struck free-kick from the edge of the box" in first-half stoppage time as Forest Green came back from 2–0 and 3–1 down to beat Yeovil Town 4–3 and record their first win in the Football League.
Brown made his first appearance for England's under-16 team on 25 November 2011, as a second-half substitute as England beat Scotland under-16s in the Victory Shield. He played in three matches in the 2012 Montaigu Tournament, as England lost on penalties to Russia in the semi-final, but then beat France in the third-place playoff match. He scored on his under-17 debut, against Turkey on 31 August 2012, a 4–1 victory that he chose in 2013 as his most memorable match; according to the Football Association's website, "he broke through the heart of midfield with his electric pace, unleashing a thunderous shot into the bottom left hand corner leaving Akdag with no chance. It was a magnificent goal by the young speedster who produced a fantastic display all evening." He played on the winning side in all three matches of England's qualifying group for the 2013 European Championships.
He was called up for an England under-18s training camp in November 2013, and made his debut at that level on 3 March 2014, as a second-half substitute in a 2–1 defeat to their Croatian counterparts in the first match of a double-header.
Together with Birmingham teammate Demarai Gray, Brown was called up for the England under-20s' first matches of the 2015–16 season, a double-header against the Czech Republic. In the first game, both Gray and Brown scored as England won 5–0; in the second, Brown made a brief substitute appearance in a 1–0 defeat. Both retained their place in the squad for the Mercedes-Benz Elite Cup, a quadrangular tournament played in Germany in October. Although injury forced Gray's withdrawal, Brown started England's first game of the tournament and scored in the eighth minute, the first goal of a 3–1 win against the Netherlands.
- As of match played 14 October 2017
|Club||Season||League||FA Cup||League Cup||Other||Total|
|Notts County (loan)||2014–15||League One||3||0||—||—||1[a]||0||4||0|
|Chesterfield (loan)||2016–17||League One||2||0||—||—||—||2||0|
|Forest Green Rovers||2017–18||League Two||7||1||0||0||1||0||2[b]||0||10||1|
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