Become the youngest goalscorer in club history, and suddenly expectations are ratcheted up and a player goes from obscure prospect to next great hope. Such is the case for Ben Woodburn, who now finds himself the most highly rated youngster at Liverpool Football Club.
Of course, he was always highly rated amongst the coaching staff, both at the academy and first team—and he had a significant role during pre-season last summer to prove as much. Still, a couple of first team appearances and a first goal are rather different than a few promising pre-season showings.
It’s a sudden rise to prominence Robbie Fowler is familiar with, and he says that key to Woodburn’s continued development is keeping him level headed and hungry now that he’s had his first taste of first team football. On the evidence, though, Fowler doesn’t think that will be a problem.
“He’s been prolific in all the age groups he’s played in and he’s come in and scored a good goal,” Fowler told the Liverpool Echo. “It’s important now that he gets well looked after. The players and staff at Liverpool know that and they stop you from getting a bit too big for your boots.
“But it’s fantastic for him and we shouldn’t get away from that. You could see how much it meant to him when he scored. I think he’ll be well looked after because Jurgen is very astute when it comes to handling young players and doing what’s right for them.”
Despite the clear excitement on and off the pitch when Woodburn scored, following the match, Klopp seemed to shrug off Woodburn’s first goal. He was disinterested, at least for public consumption. Which is a big part of why Fowler isn’t worried—it reminds him of when he was breaking through.
“You were never really allowed to be big headed at Liverpool,” Fowler added. “There were loads who helped me at that time. Graeme Souness was the manager and Roy Evans was his assistant but one of the biggest influences was Ronnie Moran, he was brilliant with me.
“He’d been at Liverpool for almost 50 years and had worked with some unbelievable players and I never once saw him get excited about any player. He was just deadpan. After the Fulham game when I scored five the first thing he said to me was ‘you should have had six.’ That was what he was like.
“As much as he knew you were a good player and wanted you to do well he never, ever showed that. The big thing for him was he wanted what was best for the club and no individual was ever allowed to be more important than that.”