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It is quite something to think that Jon Flanagan made his Liverpool debut almost three years ago during a comfortable 3-0 victory over Manchester City at Anfield.
The then 18-year-old was practically unheard of when Kenny Dalglish named him in the starting line-up to face Roberto Mancini's start studded side.
Playing at right-back the defender impressed going forward and was rock-steady when called upon at the back.
Liverpool-born Flanagan began the following season (2011/12) in the side but fell out of favour as the Reds struggled in the league under Dalglish and featured only five times throughout the remainder of the league campaign (via ESPN).
He failed to make a single league appearance during Brendan Rodgers' debut season at Anfield and appeared just once in cup competition (via ESPN).
Despite this the tough-tackling defender has been arguably the biggest surprise of Liverpool's impressive season so far, starting 14 games in the Premier League and looking more than comfortable at either right-back or the more unfamiliar role of left-back.
In all honesty, Flanagan looked shaky during his first start of the season—a 2-0 defeat away at Arsenal—but his second start was without doubt one of the best individual performances of the Reds' campaign.
Playing out of position during a ferocious Merseyside derby in which both teams were harbouring ambitions of a top-four finish may be daunting for some, but for Flanagan it was like a kick around in the park.
He was simply faultless, solid at the back and a real threat going forward in a performance that Steven Gerrard described to James Pearce of the Liverpool Echo as "one of the best derby performances I have seen for many years."
The 21-year-old has without doubt built on that performance as the season has gone on—even notching a first Liverpool goal away at Tottenham—and now looks to be a vital member of Rodgers' impressive side.
James Dickenson of the Express reports that Reds fans have even taken to nicknaming Flanagan the "Red Cafu," with the Brazilian legend taking to Twitter to reveal his admiration for the young Scouser.
There is nothing that Liverpool fans love more than to see "one of their own" come through the academy and become a regular in the starting lineup.
During the '90's it was a regular occurrence. There was Steve McManaman, Robbie Fowler, Michael Owen, Jamie Carragher and Gerrard, with the latter arguably being the last "big star" to come through the ranks.
Flanagan has big footsteps to follow but in a season where the Reds have shown that they are able to compete at the top of the table, the young defender has looked like a natural.
There is no doubt that the "Red Cafu" will be an important figure as the Reds look to end their 24-year wait for a league title.