It’s amazing to me that kids of six, seven and eight are already on a track to becoming professional footballers. Of course, they don’t all make it. But, the raw talent is there and is recognized at that age by academy scouts. The lucky ones, the kids who have the talent and the work ethic and the physique, by the time they get a sniff of big league football they have been at it for a decade. This is a significant amount of commitment and sacrifice at such an early age and the competition between clubs to sign promising youngsters can be intense. The 18-year-old right back, Trent Alexander-Arnold, joined Liverpool at the age of six, as it was crystal clear that the boy was head and shoulders above his pint-sized peers.
The man in charge of the Liverpool Academy at the time Alexander-Arnold was signed, Karl Robinson, reveals his joy at the young player’s success after seeing him perform so well against Tottenham in the EFL cup this week.
“I was watching the game on Tuesday night and I got all emotional,” said Robinson.
“He had a choice between Liverpool and Everton and we literally kidnapped him!
“We wouldn’t let him anywhere he was so good.
“He was the best by a long way. We did everything we possibly could to sign him.”
We’re talking about a six-year-old here. A six-year-old who began his pursuit of football as a striker, actually. And Robinson remembers their own pursuit of the young Trent and others as a real doozy.
“I’m watching these kids now,” he said, “and thinking ‘remember the battle we had trying to sign him.’
“Back then you could play for Liverpool on a Monday, Man United on a Tuesday, Everton on a Wednesday, Man City on a Thursday and for Bolton or Blackburn on a Friday.
“We had to do so much to get these kids to the Academy.”
Thankfully, for Trent Alexander-Arnold, a life lived for footballer thus far has been paying off. A decade in the youth set-up at Liverpool and the young Englishman has now been out on the Anfield pitch impressing the very supporters he’s dreamed of impressing for years. But, it’s no surprise to Karl Robinson, who knew from the start that the West Derby boy had all the necessary tools and traits that could send him to Melwood.
“He was brilliant. He was bubbly, fearless, the best player at that age,” said Robinson.
Trent Alexander-Arnold is getting much praise this week for his performance against Spurs. But, he hasn’t appeared out of nowhere. It’s a reward for years of hard work and commitment to the game and to the football club. And long may that praise continue.