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'Dream come true' - Teenage star Jones on Liverpool captaincy honour and learning from Henderson and Milner

2:30 AM GMT+4 06/02/2020
Curtis Jones Liverpool 2020
The 19-year-old Scouser became the youngest player ever to skipper the Reds in their FA Cup fourth round replay win over Shrewsbury on Tuesday

Curtis Jones was able to reflect on “a dream come true” after becoming the youngest player ever to captain Liverpool.

And the young Scouser revealed how he had taken inspiration from Jordan Henderson and James Milner when delivering his pre-game rallying cry.

Jones broke a club record which had stood since 1900 by wearing the armband for Tuesday’s FA Cup fourth round replay win over Shrewsbury. Aged just 19 years and 105 days, he also became the first local-born player to skipper the Reds since Jon Flanagan in 2016 – doing so in just his eighth professional game.

The teenager, who grew up in the city centre, was understandably beaming when asked to perform his post-match media duties. Still dressed in full kit, Jones delivered a mature assessment of his big night.

“I never thought I'd get the opportunity so early to be the captain of the team,” he told reporters. 

“It's a dream come true and it has always been a dream since I was a kid and I think that goes for any local lad at the academy now. Any player at the academy and even in the first team now [wants] to captain this great team in front of these unbelievable fans. To do it at such a young age is a huge honour and one which will stick with me the rest of my life regardless.”

Jones’ performance, like that of his team-mates, belied his tender years. Confident, willing to take responsibility on the ball and to work hard without it, this was a performance which did huge justice to the work of Alex Inglethorpe, Liverpool’s Academy director, and to Neil Critchley, coach of the under-23s side.

They were able to call upon some first-team guidance as well, with vice-captain James Milner involved in the dressing room before, during and after the game. 

And Jones would later reveal that club captain Jordan Henderson had also been in touch to offer support, advice and congratulations to his young colleagues.

“Yeah of course,” he said when asked if Henderson had called. “The players the whole week have been sending messages, wishing us luck and texting us individually to tell us what we need to do in our game and how to impress and help the team. 

“The stuff they were saying will benefit individuals going forward in the future.”

Of his own captain’s speech, Jones added: “Regardless of whether I was captain or not I was always going to get around the lads because they look at me and see me with the seniors every day, so it's only right I get around them. 

“The rest of the staff were great in the build-up, Milner was in there giving a talk so the boys were confident and they went out there and did exactly what happens when young lads play. There are no words to explain how great the boys did.”

For most of Tuesday’s team, the hard work will resume down at the Academy at Kirkby with Critchley’s under-23s.

Not for Jones, who as a senior player headed off for his mid-season break after the Shrewsbury game. Already very much in the manager’s eyeline, he hopes to play his part as Jurgen Klopp’s squad look to clinch the Premier League, Champions League and FA Cup treble between now and the end of the season.

“I just enjoy every opportunity I get whether it is for the under-19s in the Champions League, or for Critch in the 23s or for Jurgen in the first team,” he said.

“I go out there and try to enjoy myself and show what I am capable of doing. 

“I think for any young player that is coming into a team like this where there are players who are the best in the world – we have a whole team full of unbelievable characters and unbelievable footballers and they are all unbelievably talented – so you have to go out there confident and stand up and show what you are capable of doing and that's what I try to do every game, like everyone says.”

He added: “I think for any player on the outside looking in they might say Liverpool is a hard team to get into, in terms of the players they have in each position, they have a world-class starting XI. But everyone sees the gaffer is there for the youth and has belief in them and that is why he gives us this opportunity.

“He gave me other opportunities along the way and I am sure the rest of the boys will get theirs in time.”