Liverpool’s forgotten centre-back Tiago Ilori keen to learn from mistakes

on 21.01.2016

Liverpool’s forgotten centre-back Tiago Ilori is determined to learn from the mistakes he has made but has already put his wasted loan spell at Aston Villa behind him.

EXETER, ENGLAND - Friday, January 8, 2016: Liverpool's Tiago Ilori in action against Exeter City during the FA Cup 3rd Round match at St. James Park. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The Portugal Under-21 international made his Anfield debut – just his second appearance in almost two and a half years – in the comfortable 3-0 FA Cup third-round replay win over League Two Exeter.

Due to a series of loans his first game in a red shirt came just over a week ago in the original encounter after he was recalled from Villa – where he failed to get a first-team match in three months.

Chances may be limited at Liverpool from now until the end of the season, especially as they face Premier League opposition in West Ham in the next round and also because manager Jurgen Klopp has brought in Steven Caulker, a player with proven top flight experience, on loan.

However, it appears the German will reset the youth system in the summer and Ilori, 23 next month, still believes he has a chance to prove himself after being farmed out to Granada and Bordeaux in successive seasons.

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“You always have to look at the positives but even the negatives you can learn from and that is something I try to work hard on every day and not make the same mistake twice; mistakes maybe like, at times, not working as hard as I needed to, just mistakes in general,” he told Press Association Sport.

“It is not easy [adjusting to loans] but that is part of being a footballer. We have to adapt and do our best.

“I came here a couple of years ago (September 2013) and I wasn’t here more than four months before going on loan.

“I never really got comfortable enough and that is definitely something I needed. Working with the same people every day is important.

“I am not trying to think too far ahead. I am just working hard every day, getting as many minutes as I can and be ready when I am needed to play as there are great players in my position.”

COPENHAGEN, DENMARK - Wednesday, July 16, 2014: Liverpool's Tiago Ilori in action against Brondby IF during a preseason friendly match at Brøndby Stadion. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Ilori signed on loan for Villa this season but got nowhere near the team and manager Tim Sherwood’s sacking made things more bleak.

With a centre-back injury crisis biting in possibly the busiest month of the season Klopp called for reinforcements and came to a deal with Villa to allow Ilori to leave despite being contracted for the season.

“When I went there I wasn’t injured. I didn’t do pre-season but I’d had a tournament with the national team in the summer,” he said.

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“I was, in my opinion, fit. I trained, played a few friendlies to try to get match fit again and waited for my opportunity.

“It has not been an easy season for Vllla and things are complicated but I went there to play so it is not easy for me to be happy if I am not playing but at the end of the day the coach has to make a decision and he made the decision he thought was best so I can’t really criticise. I just tried to work hard.”

Ilori’s Anfield debut came 869 days after he signed from Sporting Lisbon for £7million, a not inconsiderate sum for a then 20-year-old centre-back.

He was flagged as one for the future but it appeared he had none after being sent out on loan three times, the first four months after he had arrived in the country.

“I am confident in my own ability. All you can do is work hard and try to show your strengths. I would loved to have had a chance earlier but that is just the way it goes,” he said.

“It is obviously mainly my fault because if I don’t show myself in training I won’t get that chance. I can’t wait for injuries, I need to show I am ready.

“There are a lot of arguments but there is no book to say how it should be done. Different players develop in different ways and there is no guarantee in anything.

“I just need to work hard and whether [the future] is here or wherever I’m happy to be back and that’s the most important thing.”


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  1. Fantastic young player IMO, think it would be a crime to send him off anywhere else. Wish Caulker all the best, but would rather have given Ilori a shot if needed, esp. seeing as he is fit, which I was unsure about. Caulker hasn’t played much and won’t I think, but now he just stands in the way. Tiago just looks class every time I’ve seen him play (not just against League 2 sides).

    • Caulker is only here for this season but Klopp clearly wants some physicality and size, especially with his experiences against the middling sides that have bettered us.
      Not sure if he’s ever going to be anything of a hulk and that might terminate his career with us sooner rather than later unfortunately, unless he can show that physical challenges aren’t a problem in his game.

      That assumes that he doesn’t continue with the injuries he’s had AND that he gets opportunities to show it, which Exeter wasn’t really. Frankly it’s like he needs another loan to prove he can stick it with the Orcs.

  2. Was really good to see that the lad’s first game was a blip. Hopefully he can build his fitness and experience up and make a go of his Liverpool career. Plenty of games left this season and can’t see Sakho and Toure staying fit for all of them. Just please play him with someone other than Jose next time.

  3. The term “forgotten” is a bit over the top. Around every other TIA article his name has been mentioned for ages.

  4. In football some managers are best in jobs where they have a limited budget, Rodgers spent money for the sheer sake of spending it, often making mistake, after mistake and wasting 10’s of millions of pounds in the process, I really hope Llori gets an opportunity to stake a place in the side, he’s got some flexibility too, being able to play in midfield as well as defence, let’s face it we’ve not got many players who can play in more than one position in the squad.

    • Can’t see him getting an opportunity though.

      Our CBs are slowly coming back, Caulker as emergency / physical presence, rumour of Matip in the summer, history of injuries which might start up again and his own appearance looking like a lack of physicality.

      I can see us buying a CB in the summer and with Gomez getting fit don’t see a future for iLori unfortunately. I think the best he can hope for is to stay fit and so have a european club take him on.

  5. Under Klopp every1 has a chance. Really humble this lad,isint complaining about his lack of playing time earlier and is looking to the future. Good luck mate

  6. Great to see him in red finally.

    To be honest I had given up on him after his loan spell at villa because of his fitness issues ( same with studrige) , though never doubted his talent.

    It would be nothing but moment of shear joy and pride when we win some silverware with all this young players against all the odds.

  7. For someone who started coaching in the youth teams, Rodgers was about as nurturing as a plank of wood to young players, especially if they’d had a bad game or two. Klopp is the polar opposite, which showed in the win last night, I hope that Ilori gets his chance.

    • I’ve learned a lot of things in this life but Liverpool has taught me the biggest lesson, you can’t trust a man with a portrait of just himself in the FAMILY home ;P

      • That’s harsh, it was a charity gift thing that Swansea fans had painted of him. Lots I’ll trash BR for but not that.

        • It is unfortunate for Klopp that we do have lots to trash Rodgers about. However, we do have exactly the right man in charge so things could be a lot worse (Rodgers could still be in charge)

    • Would love love love for him to come good for us because he is a graceful player.
      Just not convinced he’ll have the physicality and if we buy another CB this summer I can see his opportunities disappear unless Gomez has difficulties coming back.

  8. Ilori is a keeper. Dude has a great head on his shoulders and bags of quality just waiting to spill over into the starting XI. Kudos for keeping your head down and working hard, Tiago. Keep it up and Klopp will give you a chance.
    Upside is massive here…

  9. Thought he made marked improvement in the replay and wouldn’t hesitate to run him out v the Hammers. It’s time. Skertl isn’t taking us anywhere. Ilori was as comfortable playing the ball out as any CB we’ve had since Agger. Granted it was Exeter. But, run him back out & let’s see what we have………good luck to him.

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