Curtis Jones: being Liverpool captain is an honour that will stick with me the rest of my life

The 19-year-old reveals his pride at becoming the youngest player ever to lead out the Merseyside club, in their FA Cup win over Shrewsbury at Anfield

Liverpool's Curtis Jones celebrateS after Shrewsbury Town's Ro-Shaun Williams, scored an own goal during the English FA Cup Fourth Round replay soccer match between Liverpool and Shrewsbury Town at Anfield Stadium, Liverpool, England, Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2020. (AP Photo/Jon Super)
Powered by automated translation

The youngest captain in Liverpool’s history was born in the 1870s. Alex Raisbeck, the Scottish stopper who was arguably Liverpool’s first great player, first led the side in 1900.

Curtis Jones, who took that tag from him, was not born until 2001. Five days after his 19th birthday, the midfielder took the armband for Tuesday’s 1-0 win over Shrewsbury Town.

“I never thought I'd get the opportunity so early to be the captain of the team,” said the midfielder. The chance came at an age when many are yet to debut, albeit in strange circumstances, forged by Jurgen Klopp’s decision to give 22 senior players an FA Cup replay off.

But for a boy from Toxteth, the suburb of Liverpool that also produced Robbie Fowler, it was special. “It's a dream come true and it has always been a dream since I was a kid and I think that goes for any local lad at the academy,” Jones said.

He received the encouragement of rather more seasoned leaders. There was a team talk from James Milner, the injured vice-captain, a message of support from Jordan Henderson, the rested club captain.

“The players the whole week have been sending messages, wishing us luck and texting us individually to tell us what we need to do in our game,” Jones said. “To captain this great team in front of unbelievable fans and to do it at such a young age is a huge honour and one which will stick with me the rest of my life regardless.”

If he will forever retain the distinction of having skippered Liverpool, the sense was he owed his elevation in part to a belief he might do it again some day.

Pedro Chirivella, the veteran at 22, had worn the armband in the Carabao Cup tie at Aston Villa in December. Jones, the captain of Liverpool’s Under-23s, is likelier to have a first-team future.

“He’s a real leader on the pitch,” Chirivella said. “There are different types of captain, and he’s the one who shows always on the biggest stage.

"He’s a fantastic player, when you don’t know what to do with the ball, you just give it to him and he will do something, or win a foul or whatever. He’s a great friend of mine as well, and I’m very happy for him.”

That aptitude for the big occasion has been shown before. It was a nerveless Jones who scored the winning penalty in October’s shootout against Arsenal, Jones who decided January’s Merseyside derby with a spectacular goal and Jones who, in a rather older team, scored the first goal in last month’s draw with Shrewsbury.

A rabona was one of Tuesday’s stand-out moments. It was expertly executed, but it showed the audacity of youth. Jones has not been overawed when he has taken the field with Champions League winners.

“We have a whole team full of unbelievable characters and unbelievable footballers and they are all unbelievably talented, so you have to go out there confident,” he said.

There is a role model in the ranks of the regulars. Jones could be competing with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Naby Keita for the attacking midfield roles but Klopp has shown a willingness to put faith in a young local. Jones could yet follow in the footsteps of Trent Alexander-Arnold.

“Any player on the outside looking in they might say Liverpool is a hard team to get in in terms of the players they have in each position,” added Jones. “They have a world-class starting 11, but everyone sees the gaffer is there for the youth and has belief in them.”