Nathaniel Clyne’s progression: From an aspiring teen to Liverpool regular

Nathaniel Clyne's progression: From an aspiring teen to Liverpool regular

The 24-year-old has already become a mainstay in the Liverpool first-team during his first few months at Anfield, just highlighting the significant progression from the youth ranks of Tottenham and Crystal Palace as an aspiring teen growing up in south London.

All things considered, Nathaniel Clyne‘s career thus far has gone swimmingly. His progression from an aspiring child growing up in the rigours of south London, into becoming a mainstay in theLiverpool first-team recently, just reiterates how important development is, at the highest level of football today.

At the age of 24, he’s still relatively young and has plenty of years left to play his trade – ultimately, he’ll strive to keep improving. In this way, his performances will gain more recognition, which was a weekly occurence as he moved from club-to-club as a teenager.

Clyne’s performances stood out, and rightly so

Through no fault of his own, it must be stressed. Strict academy guidelines state that youth players, moreso those under the age of 16 (at the time, he was), cannot travel over an hour-and-a-half to the club’s training ground. If this is the case, they have to seek a club closer to their residency.

The side in question, is Tottenham Hotspur. Over the past few seasons, they’ve established themselves as one of the only clubs in the top flight, that actively give opportunities to their more promising players, and Clyne would have easily entered that bracket – if he’d been allowed to stay in north London.

Started his playing career as a striker before being shifted back

Initially starting off as a striker, Nathaniel caught the eye. His versatility and energy allowed him to track back, helping his teammates defensively. Something he still does today, the collective suggestion was made to shift him into a more defensive-minded position of the pitch. An area where his energy could be utilised effectively on either flank, but his defensive qualities could also be tested.

At full-back, naturally. A right-footer, the Stockwell-born youngster opted to switch into a right-back slot, and hasn’t looked back since. Spurs couldn’t sign him on scholarship terms given the regulations, but Crystal Palace certainly could. Snapping him up efficiently and under-the-radar, Nathaniel continued his development there, before again, he caught the eye.

Time for a change of scenery

The rest, as they say, is history. Southampton came calling, and it’d have been arguably naive of him to reject a move of such calibre. Leaving his comfort zone – as well as his mother Ann – behind in London, it was a big sacrifice to make. Was he fazed though? Not at all. Instead, Clyne had a consistently calm, collected aura about himself.

Not only in his displays on the pitch, but the way he conducted himself off it, too. Naturally to this day, I’m yet to hear of him getting drunk at nightclubs, being charged with violent assault, or doing things that footballers – as role models – shouldn’t be doing.

Having already made his bow on the international stage for England, it undoubtedly meant a lot to both Nathaniel himself, as well as his family. From an aspiring child in the streets of Stockwell, to representing his country in-front of millions? It doesn’t get much better than that.

He’ll hope for many more opportunities to come in that respect, but his instant impact upon the Liverpool team just emphasises how good he is. A £12m signing from Ronald Koeman‘s men mid-way through the summer transfer window, Manchester United were also interested in his services.

“Even when I was playing up front, I always had a lot of energy and a hunger to run after people – win the ball back. I was really good at it, so eventually they decided I was better off as a defender.”

As opposed to opting for a switch to Old Trafford, he was eager for first-team assurances – given the chance to justify that. With the likes of Wilfried Zaha, Angelo Henríquez and Nick Powell just a few of the young talents that have seemingly come and gone from the heights at the Theatre of Dreams, you can emphathise with his reluctancy to have gone there in the end.

At Anfield, he’s already settled in quickly. Himself and Joe Gomez, look like seasoned veterans, and their pricetags are looking lesser by the week. Consistency, quality, and confidence in your ability – check.

Clyne’s a realist, as well as an optimist. He knows the challenges which lie ahead for the Reds, not least under new management following Brendan Rodgers’ sacking recently.

“I have got where I always wanted to be, but now I have to work hard to keep improving and stay here [at the club]. It is going to be difficult because there are a lot of people who can play right-back but I have to try to make the position my own.”

Make the right-back spot his own? Already completed. Time to conquer the international stage, and continue to improve – just like we all know he can, and will.

Quotes’ source: The Guardian

Interview: Adam Ryan Dawson on his youth, career aspirations and much more

Interview: Adam Ryan Dawson on his youth, career aspirations and much more

Mosope Ominiyi spoke exclusively to Adam Ryan Dawson. The 22-year-old, who was in Liverpool and Leicester Citys ranks when he was younger, is eager to grab his opportunity for regular first-team football with both hands – to show other clubs exactly what they’re missing out on.

Football is a tough, often unrelenting sport. This is perhaps why the top footballers are paid so much to play because after all, their respective careers do not last forever – and it’s rapidly becoming a marketable business if anything else.

Football a marketable, cut-throat business

You’ve probably heard all the stories in regards to talented youngsters being released at a young age, or moving onto pastures new in search for regular first-team football to prove their worth. Fran Merida, Jermaine Pennant, Federico Macheda, Michael Johnson, Freddy Adu and Josh McEachran are just a few prime examples of this.

However, although being released or struggling for first-team football is a drawback that can be resolved. Through hard work. Demba Ba, as one example, was released by Watford as a teenager without playing a single senior game for them. Rejected by Swansea and Gillingham, and yet, he’s amassed over 150 competitive appearances in the Premier League and Bundesliga – as well as over 80 goals for the likes of Chelsea, Newcastle United and 1899 Hoffenheim to name but a few.

A player with quality, eager to prove it

Adam is a player with quality, one that has slipped under the radar in recent seasons. Having joined Liverpool from Bury in 2007 for a lucrative sum of £100,000 at the time, he left the club on mutual consent after the expiry of his scholarship deal. Before that though, he’d rejected an offer from Manchester City – which just highlights how good he is if he’s attracting attention from fellow Premier League sides, especially for an unproven teenager at the time.

Having read that, the immediate question popping from your mind would be simple. Would things have turned out differently for him, if he’d changed his decision as a schoolboy?

Liverpool is a fantastic club, where I made a lot of friends – some of which pushed on to play in the first-team. I signed a four-year contract at the age of 14; two-year schoolboy and two-year scholarship. I left the club after two years as I was young, and was unable to handle being away from home for so long.

A bold decision to make, but evidently a calculated risk at the time. Looking back now, how would a more mature Adam view the choice he made?

I was promised a lot by the Bury first-team manager at the time, so instead I decided to sign my scholarship at Bury. It was the biggest mistake I’ve ever made.

Having been born and raised in Bury, you could not fault his decision to want to move back home. With that being said though, Adam said he played one game for the youth team, as well as being on the substitutes’ bench for the first-team at the tender age of 16.

The now-famous names that Adam once played alongside, some of which are established players, like Raheem Sterling (Manchester City), Tom Ince (Derby County), Andre Wisdom (Liverpool) and Jesse Lingard (Manchester United), he left behind. If he was given the opportunity to shine, who knows where he’d be now? When you put that into perspective, it makes you wonder how things may have been if there were no changes in management.

Constantly moving clubs can be troublesome

Moving from club-to-club, can be difficult for the best of players. This is no different for Adam too, whose struggled to nail down a regular starting place at a club. When asked as to whether he’d found it different, the youngster admitted he’s “still learning the game” – despite having had “some ups and some downs” along the way, which is naturally part-and-parcel of being a footballer.

He also confirmed that last season was a personal first for him, of playing competitive men’s football. The transition between youth football and competitive men’s football is quite something, with many youngsters struggling to make the cut so to speak because of the physicality that respective leagues demand.

Adam though, despite his setbacks, has done himself justice. In 27 games, he created 19 assists and five goals along the way too. For a winger, that’s impressive.

I learned more in my 27 first-team games last season than I have done in my whole career.

With the new season almost upon us, you’d be excused for any pre-season excitement from fans and players alike – who are eager for the football to be back on after an extended summer break. Adam is no exception, and he understands the importance of the 2015/16 campaign and how it’ll help build him a platform from which to continue his development and push on improving game-by-game.

Many would be put off by the possibility of dropping down a few professional leagues in order to play regularly, which is part of the reason why many youngsters fall out of love with the beautiful game itself. Adam acknowledges that “this year is massive” for him personally, especially after all that he’s been through in the past few years.

I believe I have what it takes to push on. I just need games and to be playing in the window every week – so if it means dropping a couple of leagues to get that opportunity, I will do.

Adam officially penned a deal to join Kidderminster Harriers on an initial one-year deal, and even though he was a free agent until the club announced they’d signed him, it was met by delight and relief from the club’s supporters – who were excited they’d brought in an exciting addition to their ranks before the season kicked off.

That delight and optimism is justified, especially considering Adam’s ability to skip past an opposing player and go forward from the flanks. In Harriers’ pre-season friendly with Birmingham City a few weeks back, he scored a well-taken solo effort – making the Championship side’s backline look worringly fragile.

You can enjoy the three-minute highlight video from an enthralling friendly, below:

Kidderminster Harriers 1-1 Birmingham City; in a pre-season friendly, Adam was instrumental for his side on the flank

A winger’s job is to create chances for their team-mates, but it is also helpful if you have a skill or trick to beat your marker too – making it all the more impressive to watch on the pitch. Adam combines his acceleration and close-control dribbling technique with his arsenal of skills, which make him a nightmare to defend against.

It’s often hard to describe a player in just a few words, because ultimately everyone is different. The mazy run and burst of trickery into the box, does that best describe Adam as a player? If you watch him regularly, you’d agree.

Beating a defender by doing a trick or stepover is what wingers live for – I also love crossing the ball. I have a real passion for creating half a yard and whipping balls into the box. I like to make things happen.

Before he’d officially signed for the Harriers ahead of the new campaign, plenty of fans were sending messages of support to him – as well as publicly hoping he’d sign for their club. Luckily for them, he did just that, and it just reiterates the fact Adam’s hard work on the pitch is not going un-noticed. He stated it’s “always good” to “hear people talking about you”, especially on “how well you’ve played”. He appreciates this because the team put a lot of “hard work and dedication on the training ground”, so it’s always encouraging to “see it paying off.”

Seeing all of the various positive tweets and feedback on his impressive performances, it most definitely is a confidence booster – helping to motivate as well as aiming to prove his doubters wrong. When asked, he said “you always want to prove people wrong”, because “the more people talk about you, the more recognition you get.”

In terms of any advice for budding footballers out there, he also said this is the way in which you “climb the ladder” in the game, by playing well and people noticing you “for the right reasons.”

As for where he sees himself in ten years time, he admitted he is unsure as to what the future holds for him – but he’s a “humble guy” who likes to think that if he works hard, he has “every chance” of making a good career for himself.

His role model growing up? Unsurprisingly had to be an exciting player, in former Barcelona forward Ronaldinho – one of the greatest ever, who loved to utilise his skills, humiliating opponents for fun. As well as the Barça man, he mentioned Jay-Jay Okocha (formerly of Bolton amongst others) and Zinedine Zidane as his favourite players from the past. As for the present, he stated Lionel Messi, Eden Hazard and Philippe Coutinho as his favourite current players in world football – all of which draw parallels to the style of play in which he suits.

Lastly, I asked Adam how eager he was to kick on with his development with the season fast approaching. At 22, he’s relatively young and still has plenty of potential to fulfill – dropping down a few leagues shows his dedication to achieve success at some stage in the not-too-distant future.

“I cannot wait, this is my year. I feel fitter than ever and stronger than I’ve ever felt before – I cannot wait to go out there and make a name for myself, proving a lot of people wrong.”

A massive thank you to Adam for answering the questions posed to him, and best wishes ahead of the 2015/16 campaign – where I’ll be keeping a close eye on his progress for sure!