Mersey Boys: As Sinclair becomes their youngest ever player, what happened to Liverpool's other teenage debutants
12:04 GMT, 27 September 2012
As the famous football maxim goes – ‘If you’re good enough,
you’re old enough.’
Brendan Rodgers is clearly someone who subscribes to that theory as he
brought Jerome Sinclair on as a late substitute for his first-team debut in the
League Cup tie at West Bromwich on Wednesday night.
And in doing so, Sinclair made history as the youngest
player to wear the colours of Liverpool at a fresh 16 years and six days.
In fact, his inclusion in the squad seemed to take some
of the Liverpool officials by surprise – he was listed as Jordan on the
Youngest ever: Jerome Sinclair (left) made his Liverpool debut in the League Cup tie with West Bromwich at 16 years and six days
Born in Birmingham and educated at the West Brom academy,
Sinclair moved to Liverpool as a 14-year-old in 2011 and quickly broke into the
The striker’s first-team debut came just a week after his
maiden appearance for the Under-21s in a NextGen Series match with Inter Milan.
Sinclair looks set for a bright future, but how did
things turn out for other young Liverpool debutants
2. Jack Robinson
Debut: 16 years
and 250 days, vs. Hull City on May 9, 2010
Until Wednesday night, the accolade of being the youngest
player to appear in a Liverpool shirt belonged to Jack Robinson, who made a
five minute cameo on the final day of the 2009-2010 season at Hull.
The left-back then made his breakthrough into the
first-team the following season, with a particularly impressive display against
Theo Walcott in a match at Arsenal.
The arrival of Jose Enrique limited Robinson’s chances,
but Liverpool showed faith in his long-term future by offering him a long-term
contract in October 2011.
His two appearances in the League Cup last season were
enough to earn him a winners’ medal and a start in the recent Europa League
qualifying match at Hearts suggested Rodgers trusts in his talent too.
Defender of the tradition: Jack Robinson was Liverpool's youngest debutant until Wednesday night
3. Raheem Sterling
Debut: 17 years
and 107 days, vs. Wigan Athletic on March 24, 2012
A prodigious talent with a very bright future, Sterling
has seized his opportunity on the Premier League stage this season with a
series of fearless performances.
The winger was especially impressive in the away Europa
League tie with Hearts and on his home Premier League debut against Manchester
City, giving Kolo Toure a torrid afternoon with his direct running.
The good start to his top flight career even earned
Sterling a call-up to the England squad for the latest World Cup qualifier
Initially at Queens Park Rangers, Sterling was brought to
Merseyside by Rafa Benitez for an initial fee of 600,000 – though this could
rise to as much as 5m if he continues to impress in the first team.
Rising star: Raheem Sterling gave Hearts a torrid time in the Europa League qualifier at Tynecastle earlier this season
4. Max Thompson
Debut: 17 years
and 128 days, vs. Tottenham Hotspur on May 8, 1974
Thompson’s record as the youngest Liverpool debutant
stood for 36 years until broken by Robinson. The central defender made his one
and only league appearance for Liverpool against Spurs at the tail end of the
Thompson went on to spent four years at Blackpool and two
at Swansea City, before an itinerant career took him to Bournemouth, Port Vale
and a number of non-league sides.
5. Michael Owen
Debut: 17 years
and 143 days, vs. Wimbledon on May 6, 1997
It was obvious from a very young age that Owen was a
special talent and after scoring a bag full of goals in the youth team, he was
fast-tracked into the senior side with the highest of recommendations.
When Roy Evans first selected Owen for first team duty,
Liverpool’s Director of Youth Steve Heighway had no doubts: ‘He is ready for
whatever you throw at him; nothing fazes Michael Owen. He’s ready. If the
manager wants a recommendation from me, Michael gets it.’
How right he was. Owen made his debut against Wimbledon
in May 1997, a glimmer of optimism in a dismal defeat that handed Manchester
United the title.
Dream debut: Michael Owen slots the ball past Neil Sullivan on his maiden Liverpool appearance in 1997
His first full season was exceptional – installed in
Liverpool’s first choice frontline, Owen won the Premier League Golden Boot and
the PFA Young Player of the Year award.
He scored 23 goals in total and made his bow on the
international stage for England – notably when scoring against Argentina at the
1998 World Cup.
6. John Morrissey
Debut: 17 years,
158 days, vs. Stoke City on September 23, 1957
Local born Outside Left Johnny Morrissey signed
professional forms at Anfield at the age of 17 and soon made his first-team
In five seasons at Liverpool, he made only 36 league
appearances and was second in the pecking order to Alan A’Court.
But his departure was controversial – the Liverpool board
decided to send him across Stanley Park to Everton without the blessing of
manager Bill Shankly.
Mersey man: Johnny Morrissey (bottom row, second from right) made his Liverpool debut aged 17 and later played for Everton
Shankly didn’t take too kindly to his authority being undermined
by those upstairs and actually drafted a letter of resignation before being talked
In the end, the move was probably better for Morrissey,
who played more than 250 games for Everton and won the league championship and FA
THE REST OF THE LIVERPOOL TOP TEN
7. Reg Blore – Debut: 17 years, 213 days vs. Stoke City on October 17, 1959
8. Phil Charnock – Debut: 17 years, 215 days vs. Apollon Limassol on September 16, 1992
9. Ian Callaghan – Debut: 18 years, six days vs. Bristol Rovers on April 16, 1960
10. Harold Barton – Debut: 18 years, nine days vs. Blackburn Rovers on October 9, 1929
AND HERE'S HOW IT STARTED FOR OTHER BIG NAMES…
Debut: 18 years and 182 days, vs. Blackburn Rovers on November 29, 1998
Considering what a great player he became, Gerrard's debut is largely forgettable as he came on for the last few minutes against Blackburn at Anfield as a replacement for Vegard Heggem.
Further opportunities followed during the 1998-1999 campaign as Jamie Redknapp struggled with injury but Gerrard's performances were hallmarked by nerves and he didn't make much of an impact.
Reflecting on his first few starts in an interview to mark ten years at Anfield, Gerrard said: 'I was out of position and out of my depth.'
But his rapid improvement led to a regular first-team slot and Anfield immortality.
Fresh-faced: Steven Gerrard is challenged by future England teammate Emile Heskey on one of his early Liverpool appearances
Debut: 18 years and 166 days, vs. Fulham on September 22, 1993
Fresh from helping the England Under-18 side win the European Championships in the summer of 1993, Fowler scored on his debut for Liverpool's first team in a 3-1 League Cup first round tie at Fulham.
Two weeks later, he scored all five goals in the return leg to truly announce his arrival.
Fowler's first league goals quickly followed, including a hat-trick in only his fifth league start against Southampton.
In all, he scored 183 goals in his two spells at Anfield.
Eyes on the ball: Fowler scores the third goal on his debut against Fulham in 1993
Debut: 18 years, 345 days, vs. Middlesbrough on January 8, 1997
Like Owen, Jamie Carragher had been part of the FA Youth Cup winning side of 1996 and Roy Evans handed him a first-team debut in a League Cup quarter-final defeat to Middlesbrough in January 1997.
Carragher played the last 15 minutes as a replacement from Rob Jones, but couldn't help avert a 2-1 reverse to the eventual cup finalists.
Three days later, he was given a league debut against West Ham, again as a substitute and Carragher then scored on his first start in the next game with Aston Villa.
Opening chapter: Jamie Carragher in an early game for Liverpool, against Celta Vigo in the UEFA Cup