Alex Inglethorpe: I am so proud of Trent, he is an inspiration to our young players

ColumnAlex Inglethorpe: I am so proud of Trent, he is an inspiration to our young players

By Alex Inglethorpe


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In our latest column from Kirkby, Academy director Alex Inglethorpe previews the new 2023-24 season and tells us of his pride at seeing Trent Alexander-Arnold made vice-captain of Liverpool FC.

The Academy never sleeps and always remains a busy and thriving place during the summer when our schoolboy programme continues, and I want to say a thank you to our brilliant staff for the work they continue to do.

It’s really good we have a 52-week-a-year programme, it’s a tough ask on some staff because there’s always a reason to be in, but it’s lovely when you live it because there’s different sorts of phases in the year and different age groups come and go.

It’s lovely to see the older-ages group come back and it has been a good pre-season for all groups. It has been difficult in terms of numbers because we have a few boys away with the senior team, which is the priority and that is what we want.

It’s really good that they get that opportunity. I think if pre-season comes and goes and if nothing more that the manager and the staff know your name, can put a name to your face and they have got an opinion about you, then I think it’s been more than worthwhile your experience.

For some players, they will stay with the senior team or go back a bit more often, and for others it should give them the lift or the inspiration to work even harder so they go back and do it all again.

It has been hard for Barry Lewtas and the U21s because they have been shorter on numbers but it has given our U18s a few opportunities to be around them during pre-season, so there’s always a knock-on.

The U18s started their season last Saturday with a 4-2 win over Nottingham Forest and I thought it was in parts a good performance. The first 30 minutes was really good then we lost our way a little bit but it’s nice to be watching football again.

Then we had the U21s start their season with a very good performance against Everton in the mini-derby. I was so pleased for Tom Hill to be back and get his goal because he has had a tough time and he deserved that.

It was great to see Layton Stewart back cheering the lads on against Everton after his recent move to Preston North End, and we also had Harvey Elliott and Tyler Morton, who is working his way back from injury, pitchside cheering the boys on as well. It’s fantastic and it gives the boys a boost.

Recently, Trent Alexander-Arnold was made vice-captain of Liverpool Football Club and it’s a tremendous honour for him, his family and all of us here at the Academy.

It is a huge honour and it’s testament to the hard work he has put in and the loyalty he has shown to the club. I would be astounded if Trent saw the role of vice-captain as being the endgame for him because I would have thought he will be relishing the role of learning in that position with the new responsibility, but also to use that at some point in the future to put the armband on for real.

I first came across Trent when he was 13 and it has been fantastic to witness his journey so far. What I can tell you is Trent came in to the Academy to speak to our first-year scholars during pre-season.

I was blown away by the level of thought and the communication he was able to have with them. I found it inspirational and it was a very proud moment for me and also a humbling moment because I wouldn’t have seen the 16-year-old Trent being capable eight years later to be standing there and speaking the way that he did.

How he has evolved from a young person into a man is as impressive as to how he has evolved into a world-class footballer for Liverpool.

Curtis Jones is now closing in on 100 games for Liverpool and it has also been fantastic to see the way that he has evolved as a footballer and as a person.

I thought Curtis had an outstanding end to last season when he was back from injury and he put a real marker down that he should be taken seriously, both internationally as well as from a club perspective.

He showed everyone what he is capable of, the energy he brings and the level of performance he was able to give the team. He is close to 100 games for Liverpool and I believe there is still much more to come from him so I’m hoping he will be able to continue where he left off.

Curtis has a great attitude. I think there’s a huge amount of self-belief which he’s always had and you need to have that if you want to make it at a club like Liverpool.

He has got this love of football, he wants to play and I think it’s always important for all players to stay close to the nine-year-old version of themselves, that will always be their best coach if you can stay connected to the game and that version of you that lived, breathed and ate football.

Of course, that gets harder as you get older because there’s more distractions and there’s more things to disconnect you from that version of you, but I do think Curtis has still got that love for the game that he always had.

During the pre-season we said our permanent farewells to Layton Stewart and Max Woltman, who have moved to Preston North End and Oxford United respectively. I’m delighted for them that they have been able to start their senior football journeys at great clubs with great people.

While it is always difficult to say goodbye to Academy graduates that you have known and coached for such a long time, if they are going on to other clubs then that is an amazing way to say goodbye to them, but I also think football is a very small world and your paths tend to cross again relatively quickly so it’s never goodbye for that long.

For Layton, he came back from a bad ACL injury to achieve a dream of playing for the senior team in front of the Kop against Derby County in the Carabao Cup.

It’s everyone’s dream to play for Liverpool and none more poignant than for the local boys to be able to say they have done that and played in front of the Kop. I think that is a huge achievement and it’s something that will rightly live with him forever.

It’s the same with Max, who came on in the Champions League at the San Siro for his debut and then led the line in front of the Kop in the FA Cup. That is two of the best debuts that you could possibly have and he will never forget that.

Last season we welcomed Jay Spearing back to the club to work with the U18s and keep his playing career going when needed for the U21s, and he has been like a breath of fresh air and like he has never been away from the place.

Coaching comes in many forms and Jay’s way is leading from the front. He is a fantastic inspiration to the players, especially the younger ones when he plays alongside them because he adds that senior voice you really do need.

Perhaps with the way that academy football is set up now I think that is a real miss of those senior players that can play with and against you. So, for the U18s, bearing in mind a lot of the U16s have that senior voice alongside them every day in Jay, I think it’s inspirational and he has been a real top addition to our group.

I would also like to take this opportunity to pay a special tribute to all my staff because their hard work never goes unnoticed.

If you work at an academy I think you have to work there because you genuinely love to, as it’s not perhaps the glitz and the glamour of working around a senior team and there’s a lot of hard yards that you have to put in.

I think whichever department we have at the Academy, whether that be the ground staff who do an incredible job, the staff in the canteen, the chefs and people involved in that, kit departments, we have so many unsung heroes at the Academy, our facilities staff, I could go on, literally every single department.

They work hard and a lot of the times they do it without the recognition that they deserve but it certainly doesn’t go unnoticed by myself or the people that they work with. They all do an incredible job and they are a real credit to the club.

Alex Inglethorpe was speaking with's Steve Hunter



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This article has been automatically translated and, while all reasonable efforts have been made to ensure accuracy, some errors in translation are possible. Please refer to the original English-language version of the article for the official version.