FeatureMeet the Academy: Get to know the goalscoring and superstitious Jayden Danns

By Glenn Price


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Jayden Danns has been on fire in front of goal for Liverpool's Academy sides this season – but just don't tell him exactly how many he's scored.

"I'm a superstitious person," the striker tells Liverpoolfc.com. "I've got this superstition that as soon as I start counting my goals, the goals will stop. I haven't been counting them and hopefully they keep coming.

"Throughout the week I've got to be doing my extras to build up to the game because if I don't do it one week then I'll start getting anxious for a game."

Superstition has led to success for the 18-year-old when playing for the Reds' U18 and U21 teams in 2023-24.

His goalscoring tally currently stands at 21 (apologies if you're reading, Jayden), and he has also delivered six assists.

You may have seen a few standouts from that total – free-kicks finding the postage stamp and spectacular efforts from in excess of 30 yards out.

However, the simpler finishes – ones he labels '20-goal-a-season-type goals' – have given Danns just as much satisfaction, if not more.

"There's effort behind them and there's work behind them," he explains. "I think I scored one against Brighton for the U21s where the coaches have helped me work on that and it's just a bit of movement to get in the box.

"It might look like a tap-in but that sprint in the box is what we've been working on the whole week."

In his mind, Danns believes he's making up for lost time this season.

He was ruled out of action for around eight months at U16 level, suffering from the common Osgood-Schlatter's disease, which causes pain in the knee for growing teens.

He details: "In the space of such a short time, I think I went from 5ft 2in to 6ft. I was out for like eight months with Osgood and that was a tough time for me. You're thinking, 'Why's this happening to me?'

"Obviously when you get back you start to appreciate it so much. Coming back, I just tried to get the most out of what I can really.

"But it makes you learn things and learn different ways to improve. If you look at me last season, I don't think I was as powerful. I was a bit more leggy and Bambi-like!

"This season, I'm really filling out into my body and I'm just enjoying my football at the moment. I like making runs forward, I like dropping in deep to get the ball. It feels like everything is coming together. I'm just really enjoying it."

Danns' journey with Liverpool began at U7 level when he was scouted playing local futsal, the fast-paced indoor form of the game.

There are traits from those days that remain in the Scouser's attacking arsenal, along with what's been meticulously developed in his time at the Kirkby Academy.

"When I was young, I used to get compared to [Roberto] Firmino," Danns says. "I wasn't as tall when I was younger, I was quite a late developer, and then all in a short period of time everything hit me at once.

"Back in the day I was like a No.9-and-a-half, where I'm still a No.9 but I love to drop in. The last couple of years, I've started to run in behind more as I've got more physical and believed in my pace a little bit more.

"One of my goals last season was to work on my pressing, to be honest. It's got a lot better with my physicality as I've grown into my body but also when you add the work that we've put into it to keep pressing and keep counter-pressing... you can see the results.

"I think at least four of my goals this season are off pressing a man and they might give it away for me to go and slip in behind and score."

Supporting Danns through all the ups and downs of his emerging career so far have been his parents.

His dad, Neil, was a former professional footballer for two decades with Crystal Palace, Birmingham City, Leicester City and a host of other established clubs. He's now assistant manager at Tranmere Rovers.

"If I didn't have him, there'd be moments where I didn't want to practise and it isn't drilled into my head," Jayden says. "Now I think I'm into that routine to where it's hard to fail if you really want it that much.

"That's been drilled into me – if you really want it, work as hard as possible and you'll get that because you've got the talent and the physicality now.

"My mum helps with the diet and that side as well. I'm in debt for the rest of my life really, I owe my life to them."

Danns' progress has earned him opportunities to train with Jürgen Klopp's senior squad at the AXA Training Centre. He even got a namecheck from the manager about his potential in a recent press conference.

'Dannsy', as Klopp called him, vows to work tirelessly for that to become the norm.

He finishes: "When you get up there, you've got to keep the standard that they're keeping. It's all a new level and I really want to work hard to become the players that they are right now.

"My only focus is to put my all into what I'm doing and keep practising and keep doing extras to get where they are.

"My long-term aim is to be the best player I can possibly be. I don't want to end my career and have any regrets where I could have worked harder. I'd rather just put all the work in and try to get as much as I can from it.

"Step by step, I want to become the player that I envision."



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