Liverpool FC youngster Stefan Bajcetic has called his 81-minute goal against Aston Villa the “greatest moment in his life”. The 18-year-old midfielder came on as a substitute in the 79th minute and put the game to bed for the Reds at Villa Park moments later, following up Darwin Nunez’s disruptive run with a composed touch, rounding the keeper before finishing cooly. It was his first senior goal for the club.
Bajcetic, who arrived at the club from Celta Vigo in February 2021, became the second-youngest Spanish scorer in Premier League history, behind Cesc Fabregas, who scored for Arsenal against Blackburn aged 17 years and 113 days in August 2004. Stefan is also Liverpool’s third-youngest Premier League scorer behind only Michael Owen (17 years 143 days) and Raheem Sterling (17 years 317 days). Speaking in a post-game interview with liverpoolfc.com, he explained his thought process in the moment:
“Unbelievable! I just came on and tried to run and defend – that was my job.”
“I saw Darwin running and I thought, ‘OK I have to go there.’ The ball came to me and I didn’t know what to do – I’m not used to scoring goals!
“I saw the long ball, I know how fast Darwin is and I know how good he is, so I knew he was going to get something on that ball. So I just got into the box, the ball came and I just scored.
“I just didn’t know what to do. I just thought [about] all the work I’ve done, how I’ve moved from Spain very young – that was tough – and it’s just paid off.”
Since featuring in Liverpool’s preseason, Bajcetic has featured sparingly, mostly as a substitute at the end of games, with a start coming in the win against Derby County in the third round of the EFL Cup at Anfield. It’s such a joy to see a young player make his breakthrough like this. And with more youngsters like Ben Doak and Bobby Clark waiting in the wings, it’s paramount that the club continues to have a pathway available for its youngster to the first team. Manager Jürgen Klopp explained his approach towards blooding Liverpool’s young players in his post-game interview with the BBC:
“We know that we have to create a situation where these boys can help us - and they can help us - but for that we need to be stable. If we are stable, then they can play their role.”
“Stefan’s an exceptional talent. He’s cheeky as hell and how he plays football is great. His attitude is outstanding.
“Ben as well, what a dribbler he is. It’s nice to bring them on. They have an important role for us and tonight they could play, which was really nice.”
The kids, they’re alright.