Conor Coady claims he was “always realistic” over his chances at Liverpool, and opted to leave the club in 2014 due to “ridiculous” competition in his position.
Coady came through the academy ranks at his boyhood club to captain the Reds’ under-21s and reach the fringes of the first team in 2012, debuting in Europa League.
That was a 1-0 defeat to Anzhi Makhachkala, which saw future Everton loanee Lacina Traore score the only goal of the game and the likes of Andre Wisdom, Jon Flanagan, Jonjo Shelvey and Adam Morgan all start.
Jamie Carragher captained the side, and Coady was joined by the Liverpool legend as part of an Off Script interview with Sky Sports’ Geoff Shreeves, exploring his decision to leave the club.
The Wolves captain revealed he was “always realistic” about his prospects, and even after a promising spell on loan with Sheffield United in 2013/14 knew he would struggle to break into a defence that included the likes of Dejan Lovren, Mamadou Sakho and Kolo Toure.
“Brendan Rodgers was good for me when I was younger. I had a season at Melwood, I was training with the first team and learning off them,” he recalled.
“That was big for me, but I always knew that it was going to be tough. I was always realistic in terms of my chances at Liverpool.
“I was training with the first team which was great, I was learning a lot off the different players, how to play and how to do things, but I was always realistic in terms of how hard it was going to be for myself.
“I always knew at some point I’d have to come away from Liverpool to really experience being a first-team player.
“That was the best decision I ever made, and Brendan Rodgers was great for it because he really pushed that, to send me on loan and try and improve my game.
“Even after being on loan at Sheffield United—I loved the season, it was a brilliant club for me to go to—coming back I still knew it was going to be tough.
“Liverpool were always getting better, they were always improving, and the players who were in the same position as me were just ridiculous.
“So I knew it was going to be tough, and I knew coming back from Sheffield that I’d have to move on again, that was how it was going to be.
“I just wanted to play football, I was realistic in terms of I knew where I was at and I knew the type of level I was at.
“I just wanted to play, I wanted to be part of the first team, I wanted to be playing games that meant something, I wanted to be playing against men and learning and getting better all the time.
“I think that was the biggest thing, just being realistic in terms of the situation I was in, to be honest.”
Coady’s decision to move on was clearly vindicated when, after initially joining Huddersfield on a permanent deal, he made the switch to Wolves and stepped up to take over the captaincy.
Now he is leading a side currently sat sixth in the Premier League and into the last 16 of the Europa League, which defied Carragher’s expectations of a player he featured against in both outings for Liverpool.
“A lot of people ask me about yourself, and to be honest, I thought you’d be a top Championship player really,” Carragher explained, candidly.
“So what you’ve done, even though I knew you so well as a youngster coming through…
“I wouldn’t say it’s surprised me, but I’ve got so much respect and admiration for you, for how you’ve basically got yourself to being a Premier League captain for a team in Europe.
“I wouldn’t have thought you’d have got to that level.
“Players would possibly say it about me, maybe they didn’t expect me to have the career I did and play for Liverpool my whole career.
“I think sometimes when we talk about qualities in a player, we talk about attitude but there are so many things with attitude really.
“It’s not just about giving 100 percent, it’s when you get knocked down and still having that belief in yourself, having people around you that still believe in you.
“It’s not easy, and I think perseverance is a big quality that sometimes we forget in football, that’s a huge part of Conor’s armoury.
“To be in a situation that he is now, to be captain of a Premier League club is pretty special, and certainly one as good as Wolves in these last few seasons is even better.”
For Liverpool fans, it is pleasing to see Coady establish himself as a Premier League captain having shown such promise at Anfield only to move on due to a lack of opportunities.
Whether he would have been able to fit into the current setup is an interesting one, but as Carragher’s assessment continues it is clear that he would be a favourite of Jurgen Klopp‘s at least off the pitch.
“I think Conor Coady is the type of lad that if you’re a manager, if you’ve got him in your dressing room you’ve got gold dust,” he added.
“You just think ‘yes, that will look after my dressing room’.
“There are always different characters and cliques within the dressing room, but when you’ve got something with that good a character, professionalism, the energy he shows even in this interview, always in a good mood, lifting people—that is gold dust.”