A former Liverpool youth-team player has shared a shocking story of how he badly injured a teammate in a bid for first-team selection.
Tom Brewitt was with the Reds from 2007 to 2017 and during Jurgen Klopp’s first season at Anfield, Liverpool had several centre-backs out before an FA Cup tie against Exeter. The then 18-year-old saw a path to the first team but believed teammate Daniel Cleary stood in his way.
“Whatever it took to do it, I was going to do it,” Brewitt told the Football Journeys Podcast on his desire to make his full debut.
“If that meant hurting someone or ruining a relationship I had, I was going to do it. I was just desperate to play for Liverpool and that’s all I wanted to do.”
Brewitt’s premeditated horror challenge left Cleary on crutches for several weeks afterwards.
“I took the decision, it was me or him, so I went after him in training,” Brewitt, who captained Liverpool in the FA Youth Cup, told Football Journeys. “Before Christmas and the time between Christmas and New Year, I put myself next to him in possession games, I put myself next to him in games, and I just kicked him.
“I wasn’t trying to hurt him badly but I was trying to hurt him enough so he was out the way and I would play.
“It was about a week before the Exeter game and I took a bit of a heavy touch in a seven-a-side and he’s come in to tackle me. I waited a split second too long and absolutely topped him, went over the ball.
“It was a bad tackle – I knew it was a bad tackle, I did it on purpose and I’m not incredibly proud of it.
“I’m not ashamed of it, either, because in my head it was me or him and I was choosing me.”
The end result was that Cleary was unavailable for the FA Cup game with Brewitt, now 23, admitting: “He was on crutches for the next two weeks, so it was sort of like, not ‘mission accomplished’ because I think that’s a bit harsh as I didn’t want to hurt him, I just needed him out the way for this game.”
However the defender’s scheme failed to place him in Klopp’s match-day squad, as he ironically managed to injure himself in training. Brewitt suffered a concussion after cracking his head against a teammate four days before kick-off. Let’s call it karma.
The defender, who was let go by Morecambe this summer, never did get that Liverpool debut he wanted so badly that he hurt a teammate to get it. Although it’s pretty remarkable honesty to come forward and tell this story.
Cleary has reacted to the interview on Twitter, saying he was “lucky to walk away from that tackle with my leg in one piece.”
Deleting the tweet @journeyspod ? Come off it lads… use left the best part out of the clip “Mission Accomplished “ 😂 lucky to walk away from that tackle with my leg in one piece 👍🏼 pic.twitter.com/TG0Ix02xf6— Daniel Cleary (@DanielCleary21) October 15, 2020
He also added: “Blowing out someone else’s candle doesn’t make yours shine any brighter comes to mind.”
The Irish 24-year-old is currently playing for Dundalk, where we certainly hope his teammates treat him better than Brewitt did at Liverpool.