Liverpool’s youngest-ever player in Europe now coaches at the AXA Training Centre

In 1992, a young Scouser at the age of just 17 years, seven months and two days made his European debut for Liverpool, creating a record that stands to this day. And he now works at the club.

Millions of children have shared the dream of one day growing up to play for their childhood team, but the reality is not many ever get the opportunity.

While Phil Charnock would have the honour of doing it only twice, it only took one appearance, his first, to make history by becoming the club’s youngest player in Europe.

Emerging off the bench in the 56th minute to replace Steve Harkness in a European Cup Winners’ Cup first-round first leg with Cypriots Apollon Limassol, Charnock’s dream came true.

It was 1992, Graeme Souness was at the helm, and the Reds won 6-1 in a match that saw Ian Rush overtake Roger Hunt to become Liverpool’s leading goalscorer in European competition.

JOHANNESBURG, REPUBLIC OF SOUTH AFRICA - Sunday, May 29, 1994: Liverpool's Phil Charnock in action against the Iwisa Kaizer Chiefs during the United Bank Soccer Festival friendly match at Ellis Park Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Reflecting on his debut, Charnock told the club’s website: “Most of it is a blur now, 30 years on – time flies. I just remember it being live on TV, so you’d be aware of your family watching the game and just hoping that you get a chance to come on.

“I remember the adrenaline flowing when I got called down by the manager [Graeme Souness] to go onto the pitch. Maybe it was flowing too much as I remember my second touch was a tackle!”

Charnock would make only one more appearance for the club, a start against Chesterfield in the League Cup just six days after his debut, but his outings are memories he cherishes.

The midfielder, who was on Liverpool’s books from the age of 12, also had the chance to meet South African president Nelson Mandela on a post-season trip in 1994 – talk about “surreal.”

JOHANNESBURG, REPUBLIC OF SOUTH AFRICA - Sunday, May 29, 1994: Life-long Liverpool FC supporter and newly elected President of the Republic of South Africa Nelson Mandela meets the Liverpool players before the United Bank Soccer Festival friendly match at Ellis Park Stadium. John Barnes and Phil Charnock. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

He reflected: “Supporting the club as a kid and then being around those players was surreal. It was quite tough to deal with, to be honest, and at the end of the day, I wasn’t good enough for Liverpool and moved on.

“Of course, it would be better if I could say I hold the record and played 50 or more games for Liverpool, but it’s still a memory that I can share with my family for the rest of my life.”

It is also an experience he can pass down to the next generation at Liverpool, as he currently works as the U12s coach at the academy, where he has been since 2012.

VLADIKAVKAZ, RUSSIA - Tuesday, September 12, 1995: Liverpool's Phil Charnock before the UEFA Cup 1st Round 1st Leg match against FC Alania Spartak Vladikavkaz at the Republican Spartak Stadium. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

After a playing career that ended in 2008 – 12 years after his Anfield departure – Charnock counts himself lucky to be back where it all started for him.

“I just feel lucky to have done what I’ve done,” he said. “Lucky to be at Liverpool as a kid, lucky to be here now and I always cherish it. As a Liverpool fan, what more would you want?”