On May 6, 1997, Michael Owen became the youngest player to ever score for Liverpool when he bagged his first goal of 158 for the club against Wimbledon. Roughly 2 years and 5 months later Ben Woodburn was born. And 17 years and a month thereafter, Woodburn broke that long-standing record.
Owen does not seem terribly surprised at the development, noting Klopp’s keen interest in the Academy and youth training from the very beginning.
“He’s with the perfect manager in Jürgen Klopp,” Owen said of the Liverpool boss. “As soon as he [Klopp] came in, he showed his interest in the youth set-up.”
“I was up at the Academy, probably watching Ben and another set of good young players, and he’d only been appointed two or three days [before] and straight away he was there at the Academy watching the young players.”
As for Ben Woodburn, Owen is impressed with his natural ability and is confident the Liverpool staff are managing his development in an appropriate way.
“He is a talent, a very good talent, a lot of the Academy staff have been thinking he’s one to watch for a number of years now.
“When I saw him originally he played in midfield and burst forward from deeper positions, but he can play in attacking positions as well. So I think he’ll be managed – he won’t be starting every game, put it that way.”
If Owen is bothered by his record finally being broken, he’s not showing it. In fact, he claims someone needed to point it out to him.
“I didn’t mind at all. I was actually at the stadium watching the game and it was brilliant to see him score.
“When the goal went in I didn’t quite realize, but then the chap next to me said ‘That’s your record gone’. I’ve not got many records left!”
Ben Woodburn could certainly learn a thing or two from the likes of Owen. That Owen went from the Liverpool Academy to Ballon d’Or winner should be an inspiration to any young player coming up through the ranks. And that Owen permanently ruined that reputation by eventually ending up at Manchester United should provide a cautionary tale for any youth player who might be flirting with the Dark Side at some point in their career.