Liverpool: Jurgen Klopp says he will do his best to protect starlet Ben Woodburn from the media spotlight after he became the youngest scorer in Liverpool’s history in their League Cup victory over Leeds.
Woodburn, aged 17 years and 45 days, edged out Liverpool legend Michael Owen by 98 days when he struck in the 81st minute of Tuesday’s quarter-final with the previous record holder sitting in the stands.
He shared the backpage headlines with the air crash tragedy in Colombia that all but wiped out the Brazilian team Chapecoense.
Klopp also praised other youngsters who played in the 2-0 win and said he thought the club would be able to control the situation.
“The only problem is I’m afraid about all you in the media. That’s why I’m so quiet,” said Klopp after the victory.
“We know how to handle the situation.”
Klopp, who has engineered a revival in Liverpool’s fortunes since he took over late last year and guided them to second in the Premier League table, said Woodburn was not the finished article.
Klopp added he hoped Woodburn would not be distracted by the sudden flurry of attention.
“He still has a lot of things to do and especially to keep the public away for as long as possible — but that is a difficult thing to do,” said Klopp.
“I said well done to him afterwards. It was not too difficult. I would have scored too in that situation. We know what Ben is capable of and what he is already able to do.”
Brazilian Lucas added of Woodburn: “He is a brilliant young player. He did very well. A goal will give him confidence to keep learning.”
Woodburn enjoyed a moment to remember forever when he fired home in front of the famous Kop End to eclipse the previous record set by Owen against Wimbledon in May 1997.
“Another record taken from me!!! Congratulations BenWoodburn on becoming the youngest ever scorer for LFC at 17 yrs and 45 days. #KopEnd,” Owen tweeted.
Woodburn only made his senior debut for Liverpool on Saturday as a late substitute in a Premier League win over Sunderland — an appearance that made him the club’s third youngest ever first-team player.
Cheshire-born Woodburn, who recently signed a long-term contract with Liverpool, is a Wales Under-19 international, but he still remains eligible to play for England at senior level.
While it’s far too early to say a star was born on Tuesday, Woodburn’s impressive pedigree at youth level and his fairytale first goal for the Reds suggest he is one to watch.
Among those congratulating Woodburn at the final whistle was teammate James Milner, who scored for Leeds against Sunderland in the Premier League aged 16 years and 352 days.
Milner, who has won 61 caps for England, remains the second-youngest goalscorer in Premier League history and became one of the league’s most expensive players when he joined Manchester City from Aston Villa for £28.5 million (Dh130.1 million) in 2010.
But scoring at a young age not always guarantees success. The Premier League’s all-time youngest goalscorer is James Vaughan, who scored for Everton against Crystal Palace at the age of 16 years and 267 days.
Injuries hampered his Premier League career and now, aged 28, he plays for League One side Bury.
Football League Cup — Quarter-Final
Hull City 1-1 Newcastle United
Hull City win 3-1 on penalties
Liverpool 2-0 Leeds United
LIVERPOOL’S YOUNGEST GOALSCORERS
1. Ben Woodburn 17 years 45 days
2. Michael Owen 17 years 143 days
3. Jordan Rossiter 17 years 183 days
4. Raheem Sterling 17 years 317 days
5. Jimmy Melia 18 years 46 days