Liverpool’s Ben Woodburn opens up about joining Hearts, experiences with Rangers boss Steven Gerrard and ‘fresh start’


New Hearts signing Ben Woodburn will wear the No.9 shirt at Tynecastle after signing a loan from Liverpool.

Hearts’ latest lender has learned from global superstars like Mo Salah, Sadio Mane and Georginio Wijnaldum at Anfield and intends to put his knowledge to good use in Edinburgh.

The fact that Gerrard named him skipper of the Liverpool youth squad underlines the quality of the 21-year-old forward. Previous loans haven’t been very beneficial, so he intends to make this one count.

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While seeking to impress Hearts and his fans, Woodburn is also determined to regain international recognition. He has ten Wales caps and two goals and will be hoping Tynecastle Park will be the place to help him capture the attention of interim national coach Rob Page.

“Everyone wants to play for their country, so I hope I can come back to the team. I hope Hearts is a good place to show them what I can do, ”said Woodburn. A winning goal on his Wales debut against Austria at the age of 17 is the pinnacle so far.

Recalling that intense hype in 2017, he stressed the need to create new moments of glory to advance his career. “I think I kind of blocked it, it was weird back then. You don’t realize what you did back then until a few years later.

“At the time, I was a young child. I was playing with a few of my friends. It was strange. Did it happen too soon? May be. It’s probably opinions. That’s probably why everyone remembers me, but I have to move on now and create some more memories for people to know about me.

Gerrard ‘dream’

His relatives are household names: James Milner, Jordan Henderson, Trent Alexander-Arnold. A Liverpool legend left a bigger mark on young Woodburn than most.

“I had Steven Gerrard as my Under-19 Champions League coach and he made me his captain. It’s special when someone like him does that. He’s a legend, right? was a great experience, ”said the player.

“He was a great blunder, to be fair to him. I have nothing but good to say about him. Back then, it was almost like a dream, really. When you grow up you never expect Steven Gerrard to give you the armband. I liked it and we also had a good team, it was good times.

“I got closer to a lot of people in Liverpool. I was there for a few years, took training and got loaned. The main ones were Milner, Henderson, obviously Trent was one of my best friends growing up, so we’re very close. Beef [Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain], all English guys, really.

“The ones I admired?” When I arrived, it was Philippe Coutinho, who was ridiculous. Some of the things he would do were mind blowing. Mane and Salah are on a different level – mental, physical, the way they play, the way they score goals. It really helped me.

Alexander-Arnold is back in the Liverpool first team and the England squad after missing Euro 2020 with a thigh injury. The full-back is inspiration for Woodburn in a personal and professional sense.

“He’s probably taken a slightly different path for me, but never say never. I’m hopeful, I believe I can do it, we’ll see. This is the end goal, it should be for anyone. I believe I can do it so I don’t see why.

Show your talent

His contract with Liverpool expires at the end of the season and his move to Scotland offers the chance to show off his credentials. If that doesn’t translate into an extended deal at Anfield, it could attract a few more contenders.

“This place [Oriam, the Edinburgh complex where Hearts train] It’s incredible. It is probably one of the best training facilities I have ever been to, ”said Woodburn. “This will obviously help with whatever is going on. It’s a huge club and I’m just excited to go.

“I think it’s just a different challenge for me. I felt like it would be a good way to show what I can do. I hope I can pay them back in performance. It’s not only [showing] the people of Liverpool are everyone. I just think it’s a good time to show everyone what I can do.

“Probably all of the loans I have taken have not gone as planned for various reasons. But listen, I’m back now and I feel like I’m in the best shape I’ve ever had. I just need to show everyone how good I am now and what I can do. You could say it’s a new beginning.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has finally cleared the player’s new start after initially hesitating to keep him as a replacement. “I was on the bench against Norwich so I was happy with it. Then I had a conversation with the gaffer and he said he wanted me to stay a few days and see what was going on.

“Then a few guys came back from injury a little quicker than everyone expected. After that, they gave me the green light to go and the gaffer helped me get here. He was huge for that.

“I feel like at my age now, I need to play games week after week. With the players Liverpool have, it’s going to be difficult to do that. Obviously Hearts has some great players here, but I just think I have a better chance of doing it here.

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