At the age of six, a young Scouser by the name of Trent Alexander-Arnold joined Liverpool Football Club. No-one could have anticipated his meteoric rise to stardom.
Three years on from his first-team debut, we take a look at the most important moments that have driven “Trent Alexander-Arnold” to become a household name.
There is a distinct possibility that Trent would never have been found by the youth scouting team at Liverpool.
His primary school was invited to a training camp lead by Liverpool Football Club when he was six. There had to be a way of deciding which young lads would be lucky enough to train with the club.
So the school decided to pick names out of a hat – luckily for us, Trent’s name was one of them.
“They were like, ‘who wants to go?’ So every lad in the class put their hands up as you’d imagine, so the only fair way was to pick names out of a hat and luckily my name was picked out”Trent Alexander-Arnold, speaking to BBC Sport, May 2018
Local scout Ian Barrigan offered Trent the chance to join the academy after watching him play at the camp. Barrigan is still at the club and is now head of local recruitment.
After spending the best part of 10 years at the club, Trent was playing mostly in the middle of the park.
He was made captain of the U16 side at the beginning of the 2014-15 season by none other than a newly-promoted Pepijn Ljinders. By the end of that campaign, he had become the captain of Neil Critchley’s U18 team, too.
Brendan Rogers included Trent in his last pre-season as Liverpool manager. He made his first-team, non-competitive debut against Swindon in a 2-1 win. He was only 16 at the time.
Trent signed his first professional contract with the club that autumn, penning a deal on his 17th birthday.
Steven Gerrard sang Trent’s praises in his autobiography whilst Trent was still in the academy.
“He has the right attitude and comes from West Derby, home to Melwood. So Trent is another Scouser and apparently, just as I tried to be John Barnes and Steve McMahon, he grew up pretending to be me while playing in the Merseyside parks.”Steven Gerrard
The long road
Trent made his proper first-team debut on October 25, 2016. It was a League Cup match against Spurs and the Reds ran out eventual 2-1 winners.
He started the game at right-back and despite getting booked for a foul on Ben Davies and getting subbed off for Nathaniel Clyne in the 68th minute, the general consensus that he put in a decent showing.
Mauricio Pochettino wasn’t having any of that, though. The Spurs manager said “the full-back Arnold should have been sent off for the tackle, the bad tackle on Ben Davies.”
This obviously didn’t matter to Klopp as Trent was rewarded with a new long-term contract at the club less than two weeks later. He was part of a trio that scored themselves new long term deals,the others being Kevin Stewart and Ben Woodburn. Safe to say that Trent’s the cream of this crop.
He started in the League Cup again as the Reds progressed into the semi-final with a 2-0 win over Leeds United.
The young full-back then went on to make his Premier League debut that December, coming on as a late sub in a 3-0 win over Middlesbrough.
His journey to the first team was complete with a start against Manchester United, of all sides, in January 2017.
The game finished 1-1 but Trent’s performance was heralded by many who saw the game.
He successfully dealt with Anthony Martial and Henrikh Mkitaryan – United only equalised thanks to some last-gasp Zlatan Ibrahimovic magic.
Regular at the back
Trent spent the rest of the 2016-17 season and the entirety of the 2017-18 season competing with Nathaniel Clyne for the number one right-back spot in the squad.
He made 19 appearances in the league in 2017-18 but played in all 12 of Liverpool’s Champions League games.
Trent really made the position his own in 2018-19, playing in 29 Premier League games and making another 11 Champions League appearances on another run to the final.
No good story is without a heartbreak to come back from
Speaking of Champions League finals…
Liverpool lost the 2018 Champions League final to Real Madrid. This is where Trent first started to show his true class.
He pocketed Cristiano Ronaldo, with the Portuguese attacker not able to get anywhere near scoring a goal for Los Blancos.
Losing this game was probably really important for Alexander-Arnold’s psyche.
“When I walked down the stage with my silver medal past the cup obviously you cannot describe what the feeling is like but it is the closest thing to heartbreak that I have ever had,”Trent Alexander-Arnold, speaking to the Guardian, June 2018.
This heartbreak has moulded him into the perfect Jürgen Klopp player. It has made him hungry, passionate and a little bit desperate for success. All vital ingredients needed to succeed under Klopp.
Trent then made just one appearance at the World Cup last year, with Kieran Trippier keeping him out of the side.
Fast forward 10 months.
Trent completely dominated the right-back position for another season at Liverpool, yet it was set to end the same way: heartbreak.
Liverpool looked set to narrowly lose out on their first Premier League title to Manchester City. Their only other chance at silverware, the Champions League, lie in tatters after being unjustly turned over 3-0 by Barcelona at the Nou Camp.
Corner taken quickly…
The moment that changed the season from being a quiet disappointment to being one of the best in recent memory.
All it took was Trent quickly and perceptively swinging the ball in for Divock Origi to catch the Barcelona defence napping.
It was 4-0 on the night. Liverpool won 4-3 on aggregate.
Trent became the youngest player ever to start consecutive Champions League finals as Liverpool beat Tottenham Hotspur 2-0 to win their sixth European Cup.
In a weird way, Trent’s charge to the forefront of footballing culture has begun and ended with Mauricio Pochettino and Spurs.
The game in Madrid signified the completed transformation from boy to man of Trent Alexander-Arnold. The youngster is becoming an ever more influential figure in the dressing room. He is already helping players like Rhian Brewster become integrated in the first team.
Trent then followed up his first medal with another two months later. He started as Liverpool beat Chelsea to win the Super Cup in Istanbul.
Now Trent Alexander-Arnold is a name that everyone knows and one that everyone will hear for years to come as Liverpool could well be on the verge of their most successful spell since the Eighties.