Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Three young pals really pumped up Liverpool this week. Guess what? Their dads were all big shots in soccer too

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Take a peek at Liverpool’s recent team list, and you might start feeling a bit aged, quite fast.

As Liverpool aims for an extraordinary four-fold victory this season and faces a bunch of injuries in the main squad, Coach Jurgen Klopp has sought help from the renowned youth team. And guess what? This group of young players, affectionately called ‘Klopp’s Kids,’ is doing impressively well.

In the recent FA Cup fifth-round match against Southampton, these youngsters shone bright, just like they did in the Carabao Cup win on Sunday. Two 18-year-olds, Lewis Koumas and Jayden Danns, scored the three goals, creating history as never before had two players under 18 scored in the same senior game for Liverpool.

Danns, a lifelong Liverpool fan, expressed his joy after scoring in front of the famous Kop. Alongside them, 19-year-old Bobby Clark provided an assist, and other young talents like James McConnell, Kaide Gordon, and 16-year-old Trey Nyoni had noteworthy performances.

Nyoni, at 16 years and 243 days, became the youngest Liverpool player in the FA Cup and the third youngest to play for the men’s first team. The success of these young players credits not only the club’s academy but also the fact that three of them—Clark, Danns, and Koumas—come from footballing families.

Speaking about Jayden Danns, who joined the Liverpool academy at eight, he showcased his goal-scoring prowess against Southampton with a clever chip and demonstrated a mature understanding of the game for someone of his age.

Jayden Danns, the son of former Premier League player Neil Danns, scored his first two goals for the senior team. His dad, who is currently an assistant manager at Tranmere, proudly watched him play and even witnessed him winning a medal at Wembley Stadium.

Neil Danns, reflecting on his 22-year playing career, shared that he offers guidance to his son but ultimately wants him to live out his dreams.

Lewis Koumas, another young talent at Liverpool, joined the club at 11 from Tranmere in 2016. His father, Jason Koumas, a former Wales international, had a successful career in the Premier League with clubs like Wigan and West Bromwich Albion.

Making his debut for Liverpool, Lewis impressed in the game, scoring a goal in the 44th minute. Independent journalist Richard Jolly humorously referred to them as “Liverpool’s nepo babies” on social media, highlighting the success of teenage dreams for both Lewis Koumas and Jayden Danns.

Bobby Clark, who’s 19 years old, got some help with his goal from a friend he graduated with in the academy. He’s been part of the first-team since 2022 and showed his skills again on Wednesday. It seems like he’s going to play a more regular role in the team.

In 2021, Clark joined the club’s youth setup from Newcastle. Many clubs were interested in him, and he’s considered one of the best among the new players from the academy.

His dad is Lee Clark, a former player for Newcastle and Fulham. After retiring, Lee Clark became a manager and worked in places like Sudan and Oman. Even though he was far away, he always got updates on how his son was doing in football.

“I used to get calls from friends in football saying they saw him and thought he was really good,” Clark Sr. shared with The Athletic. “At first, I thought they were just being nice. But after I retired, I could watch him more and realized what they said was true.”

Now that he’s not managing anymore, Clark can watch his son more closely. He was emotional and even teary-eyed after seeing Liverpool win the Carabao Cup over the weekend.

It’s not unusual for footballers’ kids to become professionals, but having three of them rise through the same club at the same time is pretty rare.

Getting advice from a former pro is good, and it shows that Liverpool’s youth setup, led by Alex Inglethorpe, is doing a great job. In a chat with Jamie Carragher, Inglethorpe talked about what’s expected from young players at Liverpool. It’s not just about talent; having the right attitude matters too.

Inglethorpe said they tell young players not to wear expensive watches and not to drive cars with big engines. It’s about keeping egos in check, something the first-team manager Klopp emphasizes.

Klopp pays attention to everything. If a young player showed up with a super expensive watch, Klopp and the senior players would notice. Inglethorpe asked Carragher, “What would you think?”

Even as Klopp’s time at Liverpool is winding down, his influence is still making the club better. The young players will likely play a big role this season as Liverpool competes in different competitions. They’ve already won one trophy and are leading the Premier League. There are more challenges ahead in the FA Cup and Europa League, but it looks like the club’s future is in good hands with these young stars.

 

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