Melkamu Frauendorf's journey from the stands to a Jürgen Klopp hug

Meet the AcademyMelkamu Frauendorf's journey from the stands to a Jürgen Klopp hug

Published 12th May 2022
By Glenn Price

They were 10 minutes that Melkamu Frauendorf will never forget – but an occasion that went by in a flash.

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In the 80th minute of Liverpool's 4-1 win over Shrewsbury Town at Anfield in the third round of the Emirates FA Cup, a 17-year-old Frauendorf came off the bench to make his first-team debut. 

A huge milestone in the Academy prospect's career is even sweeter now, knowing he's played a small role in Jürgen Klopp's side reaching the final. 

"I'm still thinking about it!" Frauendorf, now 18, tells Liverpoolfc.com. "It went so quick. 

"I was just enjoying it. I was so happy. At the end of the game, Klopp came to me and said, 'Well done' and gave me a hug. That was really nice. 

"I feel proud and I hope that we'll win the FA Cup. That would be amazing. I won't forget that moment."

The attacking midfielder was one of a number of youngsters in the squad that afternoon.

Conor Bradley, Elijah Dixon-Bonner, Tyler Morton, Max Woltman and goalscorer Kaide Gordon were all in the starting XI, with James Norris also making an appearance from the bench. 

"It was amazing," Frauendorf reflects, four months on. "I trained on the Friday with the first team in the evening and then I got a message from the first-team staff. They told me I was in the squad. 

"We all went to the hotel together and I also had dinner with the first team. That was amazing because that was the first time I was with the team in the hotel and stayed with them. 

"The next day, we travelled to the stadium. The game started and I was sitting on the bench. I was warming up a little bit on our sideline and then in the 80th minute, Klopp waved his hand and told me I was coming into the game. 

"I was talking with him in German, he told me that I should make my runs forward, enjoy it and make sure that I have fun. That's what I did. 

"I really couldn't believe it. It was just an amazing experience for me. Before I stepped on the pitch, I was nervous. But as soon as I stepped on the pitch, I wasn't nervous anymore and just enjoyed it. The fans were amazing as well. It was a dream come true."

There remains a sense of disbelief in Frauendorf's voice as he recalls those events. 

Nearly five years earlier, he was in the stands dreaming of one day playing for Klopp's side, as he watched them beat Hoffenheim in the first leg of a Champions League qualifier. 

The starting point for fulfilling that ambition came in August 2020 when he completed a switch to the Kirkby Academy from Hoffenheim.

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"I can remember that game," he says. "It was 2-1, it was a good game. I remember Hoffenheim had a penalty but missed it and then Trent scored a nice free-kick.

"I was, like, dreaming about playing for Liverpool and going to England, playing at Anfield. I was dreaming about it. 

"Now it already happened – I made my debut and I couldn't believe it. I'm just proud and my family are also proud of me. It's unbelievable that I can play for this big club.

"Liverpool were watching me for a year when I played at Hoffenheim. I also had other offers from different teams, but I decided to join Liverpool and I'm really happy that I'm here now."

Year two at Liverpool has been monumental in the Germany youth international's development – a campaign that has seen him settle fully on and off the pitch. 

"It was a different environment, with different people, with a different way of play," he states. "But now I'm more settled than before and my English has got better. My teacher helped me a lot with that. I had English in school and learned there and my mum is an English teacher, so that was quite good as well. 

"The players helped me a lot, the coaches and also my house parents support me a lot. They've supported me a lot to get a feeling how it is here in England. 

"If you want to be a professional footballer, you have to sometimes do stuff like this and move to another country, play for a different team. That's normal if you want to be a top player and learn new ways of playing the game."

Frauendorf has certainly shown his versatility in two seasons at the Reds, having played as a right-back, central midfielder and on both attacking flanks for the U18 and U23 teams. 

His preference is to play in an advanced role, where he has shown his suitability with nine goals and a host of assists in 2021-22.

He says: "I'm picking little bits from every player and looking at how they play and what they do. But I don't really have a player, 'I want to play like him.' 

"I like to play in a forward position but I don't mind if I play other positions, because I think I can play any position. 

"When you train with the first team, you can see how quick the game is. I think that's something I want to improve – to make my game quicker." 

Frauendorf is also targeting improvement in another area of his life. 

"I like playing guitar," he reveals. "I've been learning for two or three months. I used to play when I was younger but I had to stop because of football as I had no time. 

"I've got more time now, so I'll play sometimes. I'm just learning the chords and that, so I'm not learning songs right now."

Fear not, though, the teenager has no plans to ditch his career in football to become a rock star. 

"No," he laughs. "I'd definitely rather be a football player!"

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Published 12th May 2022