//Interview with Jordan Rossiter
HE’S been compared to Steven Gerrard by Robbie Fowler. Jamie Carragher reckons he’s a “great talent”. And Brendan Rodgers has called him “outstanding” – backing that statement up by giving him a place on the bench for the Premier League game at Chelsea in December. So how is 16-year-old Scouser JORDAN ROSSITER dealing with the demands of being touted as ‘the next big thing’? NEIL ATKINSON and ROB GUTMANN travelled to Umbro’s HQ in Manchester to find out for this exclusive interview.
NEIL ATKINSON: Jordan, what’s your first memory of playing football?
JORDAN: I always played football when I was young, ever since the age of 3 or 4. I was brought up within a footballing family.
NA: Was your Dad a player? He looks like he might have been?
JR: He said he was. He says he was a left winger. He says he was a bit tricky. I can’t see it myself (Laughs).
ROB GUTMANN: In your junior leagues, false modesty aside, did you feel you were the best kid in your group?
JR: Oh no, I just loved playing football. I think at that age (five or six) everyone just runs after the ball really!
NA: At what age did Liverpool come calling for you?
JR: I think I was in a PE lesson, playing for the school team, and one of the Liverpool coaches was there and they were looking to pick up players. I just remember me and a couple of the other lads being given the opportunity to go up there (to the Academy in Kirkby) and play in some soccer schools. Now I’ve been there 10 years! (Laughs).
NA: When you were about nine or 10, who were your idols?
JR: Steven Gerrard and Xabi Alonso, really. They were the main men in midfield for Liverpool then. I was a centre back then, though, and enjoyed playing lots of different positions.
NA: You’re on your way to becoming a young professional footballer. At what point in your development did you start feeling like a professional and looking at what players like Gerrard or say, Paul Scholes, did in a professional way?
JR: It’s always just been about watching football and just enjoying it the same way you do when you’re six or seven years old. I’ve just kept enjoying it and carried on playing the same way.
RG: Jordan, it seems like there are two models of professional footballer – the Stevie G type, who is a great player but when he goes home he switches off and he’s just enjoying being with his wife and kids, or there are players like Jamie Carragher, who come home from playing football all day and want to watch even more on the TV and can’t switch off. Which type do you think you are?
JR: I think I’m a bit of both to be honest. I love relaxing and being with my family but I watch whatever football is on too.
NA: Jamie Carragher and Robbie Fowler have come out and said that you’re a real talent. How does it feel getting that kind of praise from not just ex-players, but Scouse ex-players?
JR: They’re legends aren’t they? And it’s a great feeling (to hear that) but I recognise that I’ve still got a long way to go.
NA: Is it drummed into you that you’ve got to keep working and keep focused? You see someone like Steven Gerrard who is still working hard and keeping focused. Is that something that you see that you’ve got to do?
JR: It’s not really drummed into you, it’s just something I know myself that I’ve got to do if I want to play for Liverpool, which I want to do.
RG: Jordan, you’re in the matchday squad now, the match day 18. You’ve recently moved to training with the first team at Melwood, something all Liverpool fans dream of doing. Can you talk us through what that first day was like?
JR: It was a dream come true being in the matchday squad. Everyone just treats you like you’re one of their own, like you’ve been there every day.
RG: On that first day, you were suddenly training with some serious footballers – Gerrard, Suarez etc. Were you star struck?
JR: Yes, at first I was definitely a bit star struck, but once you get playing football it feels normal. They’re just teammates.
NA: It was obviously a big compliment that you were brought up to Melwood, did you feel under big pressure, or did they just tell you to play you’re natural game?
JR: I didn’t feel under pressure as I felt confident that I’d been brought in so that I could just play my own game.
NA: Jon Flanagan has come back into the side and shown lots of composure and at Under-21 level you show so much composure, is this something natural?
JR: It’s something I think Liverpool drums into you. They give you loads of confidence.
NA: Do you feel they really trust you as players?
JR: Yeah, I think they have confidence and trust us.
RG: Watching the Under-21s and the first team there are tactical similarities – are the tactics required an important part of your training?
JR: Yes, but again they do trust you to know what you’re doing. Things change in matches and they trust you to do your own thing – to improvise.
NA: You’re a young adult working with some of the best people at their jobs in the world. Do you feel working with them that you improve week by week, or that you have moments when you think you’ve suddenly come on a level?
JR: I can’t say I can tell but our coach Alex (Inglethorpe) gives you the chance to do extra training and improve things, like say working on my left foot.
NA: With you being in the matchday 18 and and Raheem and Flanagan in the first team, and Jerome Sinclair getting a game over a year ago, are you all conscious that you’ve got a manager, who, if you do well, he’ll ‘throw you on’ – give you a chance in the first team?
JR: There’s a lot of hunger. Football’s a hard game and we all know we’ve got to fight every day in training, not just for ourselves but for everyone.
RG: Local lads like Jamie Carragher, and now Jon Flanagan give the impression that they’ve succeeded because regardless of talent they’ve had a will to succeed. Do you think that’s something to do with them coming from the city of Liverpool?
JR: We know as Scousers we’re lucky to be in this position, and that lots of people would like to be in our position. It gives you more incentive than pressure to succeed.
NA: Jordan, 46 is a bit of rubbish number (to have on the back of your shirt). If you could have any number, what would it be?
JR: (Laughs) I’m happy with 46. It’s my number.
NA: You said you like to relax away from the game. What do you do to chill out, what music do you like?
JR: I like Coldplay when I’m in the mood, and I don’t mind a bit of dance music. Mainly I just like to watch the telly.
RG: Is going out on the town something which happens to your mates now and not you?
JR: I obviously go out for meals and things like that but no, I don’t really go out.
RG: You accept that’s what you’ve got to do?
JR: Yeah, I do.
NA: So what telly do you like?
JR: Boxsets – Entourage and Prison Break. When we go away (with the team) there’s a lot of downtime and lots of the lads like to watch a film series.
RG: No more ‘card schools’ like in the old days?
JR: No, I’ve only ever had a few games of cards (Laughs).
NA: What sort of gear, what sort of clothes do you like?
JR: Trackies really, just comfy stuff.
NA: A true Liverpool lad!
JR: Yeah (Laughs).
– With thanks to Umbro.