After 17-year-old starter Rossiter grabbed his first professional goal just 10 minutes into his first team debut, Williams courageously stepped up and buried home a penalty in front of Kop in the dramatic shootout win. It was the birth of what Reds everywhere hope will be two future Kop favourites.
While a first team bow is always a momentous occasion, whispers have surfaced around the exciting future ahead of Rossiter, and the local lad who joined the club aged 6 has enjoyed previous recognition with Rodgers’ squad. Since the age of 16, he’s trained regularly with the first team stars and was even named on the bench last season against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. For Jordan Williams however, it’s been a slightly different story.
Born Michael Jordan Williams, but known to his teammates and coaches as Jordan, the composed midfielder didn’t join the Anfield ranks until the age of 14, when he signed for Liverpool along with goalkeeper Ryan Crump from Wrexham, whom he joined previously from Bangor City.
The Bangor born 18-year-old has been a mainstay of the clubs’ under 21 team, featuring regularly for Alex Inglethorpe’s side last season despite still being eligible for the youth team – for whom he made 15 appearances and scored once alongside 21s involvement.
The versatile Welshman spent most of that time with the next group up operating in defence, again scoring once in eight appearances this time, but showed with the impressive performance at the highest level on Tuesday night that he is equally adept when in the middle of the action.
First Team & International Recognition
After impressing consistently with the under 21 side and bravely over-coming a career threatening knee injury, the talented youngster was rewarded for his commitment and continued his rise through the clubs’ system with a second half substitute appearance in the first teams’ ‘end-of-season’ friendly against Shamrock Rovers, coming on for Rafael Paez at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin – a game played in front of an excellent crowd of 42,517.
Speaking after his appearance, he told NewsNorthWales:
“It was an unbelievable feeling to make my debut in front of 42,000 people, and to be around some first team players. Putting the shirt on with your name on it is a very proud moment, not just for me but for my family as well.“The atmosphere was something that I’ve never experienced, considering it was a friendly it was still very loud. Brendan Rodgers just said for me to enjoy it when I was ready to come on.”
International recognition followed his steady progress, and at the beginning of September, Williams made his debut for Wales’ under 21s side in a UEFA qualifier against Lithuania. He started as a centre back that special night, in a game that ended in a 1-1 draw.
The years of hard work at club level came to fruition on Tuesday night, when the Welshman was handed a surprise debut in the Capital One Cup tie. Reports pre-match indicated that he was included in the 20-man squad for the game along with Rossiter and fellow prospects Sheyi Ojo and Kevin Stewart and hours later, he was named as a substitute for the match.
The dream moment came with 11 minutes to play when he entered the field replacing the goal scoring debutant after 79 minutes and the game was forced into extra-time meaning Williams enjoyed a further 30 minutes of action on his Anfield bow.
Another new youngster for LFC fans in Jordan Williams on for 1st team debut. Great night for the Academy.
— Neil Mellor (@NeilMellor33) September 23, 2014
What can’t have been envisaged however was what happened next as the game had to be settled with a dramatic penalty shootout. Raheem Sterling spurned the chance to fire the Reds into the next round of the competition, meaning responsibility of the first sudden death penalty fell to the debutant in front of the watching world.
With no evidence of nervousness whatsoever, the Welsh international kept calm and coolly slotted past Middlesbrough keeper Jamal Blackman in the Kop end goal – a moment he will remember forever – helping Liverpool to go on and win on spot-kicks.
Heaps of deserved praise followed for the 18-year-old from staff, team-mates and former players alike, as another academy graduate made the impressive step-up to the first team limelight.
Shoutout to @jordan_rossiter and @J8williams on making their debuts for the first team. Both played well. Keep up the good work boys.
— Daniel Sturridge (@DanielSturridge) September 24, 2014
Some great pens to be fair both sides especially the keepers! How brave young Jordan stepping up fantastic character.
— Jamie Carragher (@Carra23) September 23, 2014
Williams has already featured three times for the under 21s this term, and despite announcing himself on the first team stage, he could feature on Thursday night for Michael Beale’s team when they take on Patrick Vieira’s Manchester City.