Bobby Duncan revealed Liverpool’s FA Youth Cup win was yet to sink in as he reflected on a remarkable first season with the Reds.
The 18-year-old striker scored his 32nd goal of the campaign as Barry Lewtas’ side beat Manchester City on penalties in Thursday night’s final, following a 1-1 draw at the City Football Academy. It was Liverpool’s first Youth Cup success since 2007 and their fourth in total.
For Duncan, the cousin of Reds legend Steven Gerrard, it was a particularly sweet night given the fact he had moved to Merseyside from City, who had held his registration back for almost a year following a contract dispute.
And, afterwards, the beaming Scouser was almost lost for words.
“Unbelievable,” he smiled. “We just created history. We haven’t won in so many years, so it’s unbelievable to score, unbelievable to win.
“It was mixed emotions. Relief, passion, every type of feeling!
“This season couldn’t have gone any better. We’re in the title race, we’ve just won the Youth Cup. If somebody had told me at the start of the season we were going to do all this, I’d have jumped at it. I’d have been buzzing. I can’t even believe it, it hasn’t even hit me yet.”
Duncan did not take a penalty in the shootout, having injured his ankle during a tense extra-time period, but Liverpool held their nerve superbly, with Neco Williams, Elijah Dixon-Bonner, Abdi Sharif and Jack Bearne all converting before captain Paul Glatzel stepped up to bury the winning spot-kick.
At the end, Duncan took time to console the devastated City players, many of whom he had shared a dressing room with.
“I’ve been with them since I was a kid, so there’s no disrespect,” he said. “I love half the players in there, and I have only respect for them.
“To beat them is unbelievable, but I don’t want to rub it in their faces. I have got respect for this club, and for the people higher up as well.
“They came out and played an unbelievable game, but we matched them. We had more grit and determination in the game.”
Liverpool had looked to be heading for defeat when, four minutes from the end of normal time, Duncan took aim from fully 30 yards, his swerving shot deceiving City keeper Louie Moulden for the Reds’ equaliser.
“I knew that I had time and space, I knew that the City full-backs were tired, so I just hit it with my left foot and….it moved!” smiled Duncan. “Luckily it went in.
“Big players play in big games, and they provide in big games, know what I mean? I didn’t get into the game as much in the first half, but in the second I tried to get into it and luckily the ball come to me and it hit the back of the net.
“I was out most of [last] year to join my boyhood club and it was hard at times to get through it. City were holding my registration back and I couldn’t do anything. I had other clubs coming in for me but the only club I wanted to join was Liverpool because I knew straight away.
“Worth the wait!”
Lewtas, meanwhile, paid tribute to his youngsters’ character and spirit to come from behind and win.
“I said during the week that I’d be over the moon for the boys, and I am,” he smiled. “I said to Curtis [Jones] when he came to celebrate with the boys, what about all those years over on pitch five at Kirkby when we’d take a hammering against City? That was where it all started for us.
“When you’re in the journey for so long, you can’t help but be over the moon for those players. They deserve it. They’re a great set of lads and they never quite know when they are beaten.
“I’m biased because I work with the boys, but the amount of days and hours we’ve been in – they never have a day off. They have worked ever so hard, and maybe it was just one of those things that was meant to be tonight. But I’m going to say that!
“I think it was fitting that we could beat City at the end. I thought it was a fantastic final which both teams played their part in. But for us the journey, if you like, has come to an end there.”