Bobby Adekanye has revealed his burning desire to repay the faith shown in him by Neil Critchley and the Academy coaches.
After the Dutch youth international arrived at Liverpool in 2015 from Barcelona, his first couple of years were hampered by a series of niggling injuries.
But, once back to full fitness, the forward showed his qualities during a consistent run of games in 2017-18.
Adekanye has carried that form into the current season, too, with a string of eye-catching displays for the U23s.
And, after scoring a fine goal for the U19s in their 5-2 win over Paris Saint-Germain in the UEFA Youth League, he is set to be a key figure as Barry Lewtas’ side take on Napoli in Italy on Wednesday afternoon.
Ahead of the tie, we got Adekanye’s thoughts on his time at the Academy so far, his hopes for the campaign, and why he owes a lot to the staff in Kirkby…
On the injury frustration that held him back during his first couple of years at the club…
I can still remember the first day I came over here with my family to sign my contract with Liverpool. This club has a big history and they give youngsters a lot of opportunities and I was so excited. Unfortunately, I had a difficult first couple of seasons here with injuries but the club helped me a lot. They stood by me, they had a lot of confidence in me because they knew I had a lot of potential. They have also helped me a lot in training to get fitter and I can’t thank them enough. Now I’m getting a little bit of the rewards and I hope I can have a lot more joy throughout this season.
On repaying the help he has received…
I came here four years ago and I didn’t play a lot of games through injury but the coaches told me not to put my head down and told me how much faith they had in me. They said, ‘We didn’t sign you for no reason, we just have to get you fit and playing regular games.’ That gave me a lot of confidence and made me come into the club every morning with a big smile on my face because for me this is a job as well and I love it! The staff have helped me so much. Critch has been my coach for four years now and I’m very grateful for all the help he has given me and continues to do so with the U23s. I like Critch because he is very truthful to me. He tells me when I do well and also when I’m not doing well, and I want to thank him for that. He’s always stood by me and I thank him for everything.
LFCTV GO: Adekanye and co feature on the Academy Show
On a consistent run of games last season…
That was like a new beginning for me. I was playing game after game, 90 minutes. I scored my first ever goal at Anfield against Chelsea, which is a moment I will never forget. I also played in the UEFA Youth League and that is a nice experience as well, travelling to other countries against the best players of your age group. We did really well last season and got to the quarter-finals. I think we were unlucky because we could have got to the final because we had a very good squad. Hopefully this year we can go further because I think we are capable with the squad we have. We had a perfect start in our first group game with the 5-2 win against PSG and I don’t think you can get a better start than that.
On travelling with the first-team squad in Europe and advice from Georginio Wijnaldum…
It’s a fantastic experience. Last season I remember Gini Winjaldum was asking me about the game and told me just to enjoy the trip, it’s a nice tournament to be involved in and do your best. Hopefully we can play like we did against PSG and get another good result, then we can watch the first team in action in the evening and hopefully they can do the same.
On 2018-19 so far…
I have enjoyed my football. I had a good pre-season and feel a lot fitter. I have been playing 90 minutes but I know I can improve. I’m a little bit frustrated because I think maybe I could have scored more goals. I just need to keep working hard, keep creating, be patient and then the goals will come. There will be more to come from me and I want to show even more what I can do in every single game I play to help the team. I had the chance to train at Melwood this season during the first international break with the first team. Our manager [Jürgen Klopp] was brilliant with me and I learned so much from that. Hopefully that can help me to achieve my dream, which is to one day play for Liverpool’s first team.
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