It's Inside Liverpool FC Academy week at Bleacher Report, and to kick things off we have an exclusive interview with the man some are billing as "the next Steven Gerrard"—teen midfield starlet Jordan Rossiter, who made his first-team debut earlier this season.
Rossiter is just 17 years old but has already made his first appearance in a senior match for Liverpool, even scoring on his debut against Middlesbrough in the Capital One Cup at Anfield. He's still waiting for his Premier League debut, though he has featured in several matchday squads as he fights for a place on the first-team scene.
Here's our full chat with the Reds' No. 46 on his debut, his hopes for the season and how he gets on with manager Brendan Rodgers.
BLEACHER REPORT: How much notice did you have before kick-off that you’d be making your debut against Middlesborough, and how did you feel at the time?
Jordan Rossiter: I got told the night before training with the first team at a team meeting that I was going to be starting. I can’t describe it, I couldn’t believe it.
BR: A debut Liverpool goal isn’t something everyone gets to experience so just how special was that moment?
JR: To make my debut was a dream come true but to score…I’d never even thought about it. I just wanted to have a good game and show everyone what I could do. When I scored it was a bonus.
BR: You’re spending a lot more time with the first team now in training; was it a struggle to step up to that level on a consistent basis and is it something you’ve come to terms with now?
JR: I think it is always going to be tough. I don’t think you can ever come to terms with it fully. It was tough at first because of the pace of the game is different to the Academy. But everyone at Melwood helps you and gets you through it.
BR: Who is the toughest player to go up against in the first-team training sessions?
JR: I can’t name any one player because they are all tough to be honest with you. You’re playing against Premier League players who have played week in week out.
BR: When the call doesn’t come to be a part of the squad for any given game, has motivation to go back to playing the U21s or U18s ever been an issue? Who keeps you focused on progression the most?
JR: No. It’s never been an issue. I love playing football whether it’s for the first team, 21s or 18s. I keep myself focused on progression the most. It’s always up to yourself how much you want to progress, no one can force you into it. You have to make yourself better and do it yourself.
BR: Which first-team players do you look up to the most, and which do you have a good relationship with?
JR: I have a good relationship with them all. When I’m training at Melwood, I speak to them all and they speak to me. They make you feel like you train there every day. I’m closest to Jon Flanagan.
BR: Who was involved in bringing you to the club as a youngster? What was your initial contact with the club from—an open day, a scout at a youth team, school sides…?
JR: I was in a PE lesson at school and some of the club’s coaches were there watching. My teacher at the time, Terry Cotton, put me forward to go into the soccer school. I was six years old.
BR: Which coaches have had the biggest impact on your time at the club throughout the age groups?
JR: They all have at every age group. They are all great and really helpful. Phil Roscoe helped me loads when I was younger. David Rowe, Gary Lewis…they pushed me forward and pushed me on.
BR: With the first team struggling for form and results, does it make you feel a tiny bit further away from breaking through as experience might count in these situations, or a tiny bit closer because the manager might look elsewhere for new options?
JR: It doesn’t matter whether the first team is doing well or not as to whether you get a chance. As a young player you just have to keep improving and hopefully you get it.
BR: How much contact do you have with Brendan Rodgers and can you name a particular bit of advice or area for improvement he has offered?
JR: Every time we go over to Melwood he comes over to us and speaks to us before and after training so it’s good. Just before I made my debut he said to me enjoy it, just go and show everyone what you can do because he believed in me.