Brian Brown coached Sutherland Sharks to a NSW Premier League grand final win in 2008. And leading the charge for the Shire-based outfit was Gan, 20, who was awarded the NSW Player of the Year medal.

The young star capped off a stellar year by being signed by Sydney FC youth team in August.

And he iced the cake with a sensational winner last Sunday for the sky blue seniors in only his second appearance for John Kosmina's side in the 2-1 win over the Jets.

Now Brown says to watch out for a Sharks defender who he feels can make the step up from the Sharks to the big league just as Gan has done.

"The one I think who could develop given the right opportunities would be Ben Spruce. He got injured last season midway. Until that point, he was outstanding," he told

"He played left back and I think he's the same age as Brendan, or close to. He could turn into a real handy defender. He'd be the one."

Spruce is set to play for Sutherland next season as they look to defend their title.

"There are more Brendan Gans out there," added Brown. "I don't think there are 100s of them, but if the clubs [in the state leagues] really start pushing the 15-16-year-olds...

"And that's the great thing about the NYL, the younger players get a chance to play."

Gan flew under the radar in 2007 having played a season with the Sharks' U/20s following years as a Sutherland Sharks junior. Brown spotted him and put him into his first team in 2008. It was a masterstroke.

"He took the chance with both hands. And he's a humble kid who wants to learn and get better," says Brown.

"And he's one of these deceptively quick players. He doesn't look like he's moving fast but covers the ground very speedily.

"His best position is a midfielder getting forward because he has a great engine. He'll get you eight to ten goals a season from midfield."

And Brown has put his money where his mouth is, walking away from the Sutherland job because, as he says, the club wanted to sign players he didn't feel were right for the future development of the club.

"At the end of the day, the coach should pick the players," he said. "I think there are plenty of players in the Shire and plenty of players in the whole state. Maybe given the right opportunity they can step up.

"It starts with the kids who are 15 and 16. The squads in state leagues should be pushing them – not 20-year-olds who'll never play first grade.

"I think you'd see more Brendan Gans if that happened."

As for his reaction to seeing Gan's debut A-League strike? "I actually jumped out of the chair at home and yelled, 'Ganny's scored the winner!'".