Curtis Jones took the responsibility of being named Liverpool’s youngest captain seriously but did not allow realising a boyhood dream to restrict his natural instincts.
The Toxteth-born teenager was handed the armband for Tuesday’s FA Cup fourth-round replay win over Shrewsbury just five days after celebrating his 19th birthday.
With seven previous senior appearances to his name, and goals in his last two FA Cup outings, Jones was always going to be a senior figure in the youth team fielded due to the Premier League’s winter break making Jurgen Klopp’s first-team unavailable.
However, that did not change the confident youngster, who threw in a nutmeg and a rabona cross in an assured performance under the guidance of under-23s manager Neil Critchley.
“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. The boys and myself went out there and showed that and we are absolutely buzzing to get a win.
“I think for any young player 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 – 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.
“Any player on the outside looking in 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 and gave me other opportunities along the way and I am sure the rest of the boys will get theirs in time.”
Jones has been with the club since under-9s level and to be given the honour of captaining the first team at such a tender age was everything he could have dreamed of.
Another local-born lad Steven Gerrard did not do it until he was 23, although he did assume the position on a permanent basis in a genuine first team – and held the role for 12 years.
“I never thought I’d get the opportunity so early to be the captain of the team,” added Jones, his choice of words giving away the ambition he had to be skipper one day.
“It’s a dream come true and it has always been a dream since I was a kid.
“I think that goes for any local lad at the academy, any player at the academy and even in the first team now.
“To captain this great team in front of unbelievable fans and to do it at such a young age is a huge honour and one which will stick with me the rest of my life.”