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FA Youth Cup: Liverpool 3 Leeds 1 – Steven Gerrard gives thumbs up to Kop kids

FA Youth Cup: Liverpool 3 Leeds 1 – Gerrard gives thumbs up to Kop kids

By
Dominic King

PUBLISHED:

20:56 GMT, 28 February 2013

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UPDATED:

22:11 GMT, 28 February 2013

Liverpool's Academy is brimming with
talent and Jordon Ibe, one of its most gifted pupils, showed why he is a
name to note by firing his side into the FA Youth Cup quarter-finals.

Ibe, who was brought to Anfield in an
initial 500,000 deal from Wycombe Wanderers in December 2011, scored
twice as Liverpool ran out 3-1 winners against Leeds to set up a trip to
Hull City in the next round. Jack Dunn completed the scoring in injury
time after Lewis Cook had pulled one back.

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Hot shot: Liverpool's Jordan Ibe scores the opening goal

Hot shot: Liverpool's Jordan Ibe scores the opening goal

Liverpool's Jordan Ibe celebrates his strike

Take that: Liverpool's Jordan Ibe celebrates his strike

Though Leeds – who had the backing off more than 250 hardy souls from Yorkshire – showed signs of promise in the opening exchanges and finished strongly, they had no answer when Ibe went impressively through the gears in the space of 10 first minutes to take the tie away from the visitors.

Frank McParland, Liverpool’s Academy Director, said: ‘It was a really physical game and I am just pleased we have come through it. Leeds were strong and had more experience and were older than most of our boys.

‘It is great to be in the next round and, of course, Jordon’s performance was excellent. He has been doing really well for the reserves this year and with him being 17, he can play in this competition next year. He took his goals really well.’

Playing on the left-flank and looking to dovetail at every opportunity with Jerome Sinclair – who became the youngest player in Liverpool’s history when he had a brief run out in the Carling Cup against West Brom last September – it was not difficult to see why Ibe is held in such regard.

High jump: Liverpool's Jordan Ibe tangles with Alex Mowatt

High jump: Liverpool's Jordan Ibe tangles with Alex Mowatt

Top man: Liverpool skipper Steven Gerrard was at the match

Top man: Liverpool skipper Steven Gerrard was at the match

He showed great poise in the 29th minute
to skip inside a challenge, after being teed up by Dan Trickett-Smith,
and rifle a shot through the legs of Leeds defender Afolabi Coker, that
left keeper Eric Grimes with no chance.

If the manner in which he dispatched that was impressive, his second
goal was even more so. When Liverpool midfielder Jordan Rossiter won a
challenge deep inside his own half, Ibe had no other option but to set
off on a run.

Such was his change of pace, though, he left Leeds’ Alex Purver trailing
before slaloming around Corey Roper to crack a drive past Grimes. Ibe
went on Liverpool’s tour to the USA last summer and, if he maintains
this progress, another call up to Brendan Rodgers’ squad will not be far
away.

This, however, was not a one-sided contest. Leeds, who came into this
tie having suffered just one defeat all season, started brightly and had
a goal correctly disallowed in the 24th minute when substitute Eoghan
Stokes was adjudged to have fouled Liverpool keeper Ryan Fulton.

Liverpool struggled to find a rhythm in the second half yet Leeds could
not make their domination of possession pay. Cook gave hope of a late
comeback when he cracked a shot past Fulton after being teed up by Alex
Mowatt but their pursuit of an equaliser left them susceptible to a
quick break.

So it proved in injury time when Dunn and substitute Kristoffer Peterson
combined to leave the first named with the easy task of finishing from
six yards.

Too much: Leeds' Lewis Walters was distraught at being substituted

Too much: Leeds' Lewis Walters was distraught at being substituted

Cool head: Kristoffer Peterson flicks the ball past Leeds keeper Eric Grimes

Cool head: Kristoffer Peterson flicks the ball past Leeds keeper Eric Grimes

Watching brief: Liverpool assistant manager Colin Pascoe

Watching brief: Liverpool assistant manager Colin Pascoe

Video: Ibe's sensational solo effort

Keven Mealamu warns England that New Zealand are ready

All Blacks are over sickness bug and ready to leave England's series in tatters, warns Mealamu

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UPDATED:

15:16 GMT, 30 November 2012

New Zealand hooker Keven Mealamu has insisted that the illness which hit nearly all of Steve Hansen’s squad earlier in the week has had no adverse effect on their preparations for Saturday’s final autumn international against England at Twickenham.

Hansen revealed on Thursday that the vast majority of his All Blacks squad had been struck by a 24-hour sickness bug which has caused vomiting and diarrhoea.

But despite confirming that he was one of the players affected by the illness, Mealamu – who starts on Saturday – is confident that the world champions are over the worst of it and are fully prepared for the challenge of taking on Stuart Lancaster’s side.

Ready to roll: Keven Mealamu visited the West London Free School today to teach the Year 8 pupils

Ready to roll: Keven Mealamu visited the West London Free School today to teach the Year 8 pupils

Recovered: New Zealanders Mealamu, Adam Thomson and Tawera Kerr-Barlow sign autographs

Recovered: New Zealanders Mealamu, Adam Thomson and Tawera Kerr-Barlow sign autographs

‘Most of the team have been hit by a bit of a bug, but that is the sort of thing that happens on tour,’ explained the 33-year-old veteran of 101 Tests. ‘I think everyone is just getting over it at the right time though.

‘Everyone is well now and certainly feeling a lot better than we did earlier in the week.

‘I became ill with it for a bit on Tuesday night so it wasn’t a good start to the week, but you just have to get on with it, get on with the job and make sure we get the things we need ready for the weekend.

‘Obviously it is something that has come through the team as a bit of a surprise but we have had to put it aside for a second and make sure we are prepared.’

The All Blacks have not played against England since 2010 – when Mealamu was banned for four weeks for headbutting Lewis Moody – and for six of the starting XV it will be the first time they have played at Twickenham, but Mealamu insists that those who have played at HQ before are just as excited about running out at the iconic stadium on Saturday as the rookies are.

‘All the boys understand the magnitude of where we are playing,’ he enthused. ‘It is honestly one of the greatest places to play rugby. The home of rugby.

‘Whether it’s guys that have played there before or not, we all just can’t wait to get on the field and play.’

Top class: Richie McCaw and the rest of the All Blacks were in training yesterday

Top class: Richie McCaw and the rest of the All Blacks were in training yesterday

Illness: The New Zealand squad were struck down with a sickness bug earlier this week

Illness: The New Zealand squad were struck down with a sickness bug earlier this week

A stalwart of the Kiwi side for 10 years now, Mealamu has had to play second fiddle to Andrew Hore so far during this tour, but with his fellow veteran suspended for five weeks for striking Wales lock Bradley Davies in the 33-10 win in Cardiff last weekend, Mealamu is given the chance to start at Twickenham.

The Auckland Blues hooker – no stranger to controversy himself – sympathises with Hore, but he is understandably delighted to be pulling on the All Black No 2 jersey again.

‘There is nothing worse than watching on the sidelines so I am really looking forward to getting back out there and helping the team out,’ said Mealamu, who was talking after an impromptu kick about with budding rugby players from the West London Free School at Regents Park.

‘I think Andrew and the team understood what happened and what it looked like and we knew what was coming. We all have to take on extra responsibility without him and we have to support him as well.’

Challenge: Tom Youngs (centre) will line up against Mealamu

Challenge: Tom Youngs (centre) will line up against Mealamu

Having seen umpteen Red Rose hookers come and go over the last decade, Mealamu lines up opposite another new face on Saturday in the form of Tom Youngs, the 25-year-old Leicester star who’s performances have been one of the major positives for Lancaster this autumn despite defeats to South Africa and Australia in the last two weeks. Mealamu admits he has been impressed by Youngs’ start to Test rugby.

‘I have had a brief look at him over the last week and I know he has just recently converted from being in the backline, so it is quite a good effort from him to be able to play in the front row now,’ said Mealamu. ‘He has done really well.

Ready England will have to make special plans to stop Dan Carter from running the show

Ready England will have to make special plans to stop Dan Carter from running the show

‘I have been impressed with his work around the field and he is quite a physical player. He looks to hit a lot of the rucks and likes to have ball in hand, so for us we’re looking at him as quite an important player for them.’

Having seen several England sides come and go since his All Blacks debut in 2002, Mealamu – who infamously dislocated Brian O’Driscoll’s shoulder in tandem with Tana Umaga in the first Lions Test in 2005 – is a good judge of a Red Rose XV.

Lancaster’s troops have been criticised for lacking a cutting edge going forward, but Mealamu says he has been impressed with the attacking abilities of what he sees as a team breaking with English traditions.

Limbering up: Ma'a Nonu

Relaxing: Ma'a Nonu and Liam Messam (right)

Limbering up: Ma'a Nonu is put through his paces (left), as he relaxes with Liam Messam (right)

‘We will find out more about this England team in time,’ said Mealamu, who started in last year’s World Cup final over France, ‘I think at the moment they are a team that are still working to get that identity going and put a run of good performances together.

‘But for an England side they use the ball really well. They are quite an exciting side to watch and they look to counter really well and I think comparing to England sides in the past they seem more willing to attack.’

But as impressed as Mealamu may be with England’s ability to attack and counter-attack, there is no better side in the world at those two facets of the game than the All Blacks, who have cruised past Scotland, Italy and Wales so far on tour without ever really hitting top gear.

Bouncing back: Chris Robshaw will hope to end the series on a high against the world champions

Bouncing back: Chris Robshaw will hope to end the series on a high against the world champions

But there is no sign of the All Blacks letting up – illness or no illness.

Hansen has picked the strongest side available to him for Saturday’s game and Mealamu says the side are determined to end their tour on a high.

‘We are happy with what we have been able to achieve so far but the tour is not finished yet, we have got one more job to do so we need to make sure we finish well,’ he said. ‘It all comes down to this last game and how we finish.

‘It is against another big foe of ours and who we enjoy playing against. To be playing England at their home, it is a game you have to come over here and make sure you do well.’

All smiles: Chris Ashton (left) shared a joke in training yesterday

All smiles: Chris Ashton (left) shared a joke in training yesterday

Known for playing with a swagger and verve not seen anywhere else on the planet, and as odds-on favourites, New Zealand could be forgiven for targetting not just a win, but a comprehensive one. But Mealamu is having none of it.

‘It is about winning,’ he said. ‘Whether it comes down to one point or whether it is a bigger margin it doesn’t matter, at the end of the day it is just about winning and that is what we are determined to do.’

England, you have been warned.

Steven Gerrard delighted school kids when he posed for 100 caps picture

The pupils were starry-eyed! Gerrard's return thrilled kids from his old school

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UPDATED:

17:34 GMT, 13 November 2012

Steven Gerrard caused a stir when he returned to his old school for a picture to celebrate his 100th cap and the feel-good factor has continued following the release of the image.

Huyton-With-Roby Church of England Primary School has been abuzz all day and deputy head teacher Kath Whitehouse and spoken about the excitement and impact Gerrard’s visit has had on starry-eyed pupils.

Impact: The deputy head explained how excited everyone got when Steven Gerrard visited his old primary school, Huyton-and-Roby, Church of England

Impact: The deputy head explained how excited everyone got when Steven Gerrard visited his old primary school, Huyton-and-Roby, Church of England

‘It has been the talk of the school,’
she said. ‘The kids were bringing in copies of the picture all morning
and everyone thinks it is wonderful. It was lovely to be involved in.

‘We had done a lucky dip to see which children would be involved, so there was a lot of excitement but when Steven actually turned up on the morning, it reached fever pitch.

‘The whole experience has just created a lovely atmosphere around the school, it has brought people together and Steven could not have been any more helpful. He was so lovely with the children. He might be a superstar but he is so down to earth.’

The Liverpool and England captain was genuinely overwhelmed by the response he received and he took time to sign autographs, pose for pictures and chat with as many children as possible after the formalities of the photoshoot had been concluded. Mrs Whitehouse described him as an inspiration.

‘We have got a football team that is doing quite well at the minute,’ she said. ‘Steven had a quick picture taken with them before he left and as he had got the kit for them. He is a role model for them, as he is for everyone here.

‘Our school is in a deprived area and there are low aspirations and expectations for our children, so to see Steven back in amongst everyone, was really inspirational. He knows the community, he knows the children and they know him.'

'Role Model': Gerrard, with England manager Roy Hodgson (left), was described as such by the deputy head

'Role Model': Gerrard, with England manager Roy Hodgson (left), was described as such by the deputy head

Fabrice Muamba news: Message of hope for pupils at his former school

He's a class act: Muamba's message of hope for pupils at his former school

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UPDATED:

00:12 GMT, 20 March 2012


Perfect attitude: Muamba making one of his speeches at Kelmscott School, where he used to attend

Perfect attitude: Muamba making one of his speeches at his former school in Walthamstow

Mark Smith turns his palms up and sighs. 'This is a hard time,' he says. 'We all think very highly of him.' The other side of the door, in a corridor Fabrice Muamba would have walked down hundreds of times, children who are late for lessons at Kelmscott School in Walthamstow are sprinting past.

'He really has done a lot for the school and the children,' Smith adds.

Smith, still Mr Smith to Muamba, is the school's assistant head teacher. He was also Muamba's form tutor and PE teacher for most of the five years he spent at Kelmscott in north-east London between 1999 and 2004.

'A great boy,' Smith says.

Smith remembers Muamba as a shy lad
who barely spoke English when he arrived, aged 11, from war-torn Congo;
he knows him as the man who drops by the school, sometimes to mentor
children, other times to donate a signed shirt or give speeches that
make little mention of football.

'His athleticism was excellent,' Smith adds. 'He was in all the sports
teams. He was particularly good at basketball. He just had so much
fitness and strength.'

The
story goes that Muamba did not play football competitively until he
was 12, but within two years was at Arsenal and playing for England's
Under 16 side.

'His attitude was perfect,' Smith says. 'Nothing would stop him. He had a great work ethic given to him by his family. We had a good group coming through at that time – about three of the boys were with Arsenal. But Fabrice is different.

'He is a real battler. I remember he used to go over to Arsenal, do his training, then go back for extra one-on-one sessions. He was the only one of the three to make it.

'He worked so hard. And not just at sports.'

Starting life in England: Kelmscott School, which Muamba attended between 1999 and 2004

Starting life in England: Kelmscott School, which Muamba attended between 1999 and 2004

Starting life in England: Kelmscott School, which Muamba attended between 1999 and 2004

Academically, Muamba excelled in a way a lot of pupils at Kelmscott did not at the time. Ofsted's inspection reports over the past 10 years point to an institution making sharp progress. But it remains a school largely populated by underprivileged children.

Ofsted's latest report says one third of its pupils receive free school dinners – more than double the national average – and the year before Muamba left in 2004, only 21 per cent of pupils left with five or more GCSEs of C grade or higher. Muamba got 10 GCSEs and, after leaving at 16, added three A-levels.

'He always had an eye for maths,' Smith says. 'He worked hard – he was never in any trouble, as far as I remember – and he never neglected his education. I gather he's interested in accountancy even now.

'When he comes by, he is always talking to the kids about education. He usually comes in once a year at the end of the season. He is great with the children.'

One signed shirt is in the library as part of a display with his favourite book.

Well-wishers: The football world continues to pay tributes to the stricken Bolton midfielder

Well-wishers: The football world continues to pay tributes to the stricken Bolton midfielder

'It's Lance Armstrong's autobiography, which talks about his illnesses,' Smith says. 'It's quite appropriate, I guess, given he's such a battler. He's also been in to mentor some of the children, just sitting with them and talking. He doesn't have to, but he does it.'

Lynette Parvez, the head teacher, adds: 'He did a good speech a couple of years ago. The school was introducing its specialism as Humanities, Business and Enterprise and he came in and spoke to the pupils about putting education first. It was very powerful. He was saying, “Look at your teachers, they are the ones who are going to help you”.

'He barely said anything about football. He spoke really well and the pupils responded.

'He really is in everyone's thoughts here.'