Where are they now? Liverpool’s five Academy Player of the Year winners

Quick Reads

Liverpool have a long history of developing exciting young footballers – but they don’t always make the grade at Anfield. 

The Reds introduced the inaugural Academy Player of the Year award in 2014 to recognise the contribution of players in their Under-18s and Under-23s squads.

We’ve taken a look back at all five recipients of the award to see how they’ve fared since.

Jordan Rossiter

Rossiter was very highly-rated at Anfield and won the Academy Player of the Year award in 2013-14 following some standout performances.

“I like the look of him. He’s got a bit of character and steel that me and Stevie (Gerrard) have had. He’s a great talent,” Jamie Carragher said in 2014.

He made his senior debut at 17 in the League Cup against Middlesbrough in 2014 and quickly made an impression, scoring after 10 minutes with a long-range strike to become the Reds’ second youngest ever goalscorer behind Michael Owen.

The midfielder only managed another four appearances for the club before signing for Rangers at the expiration of his contract in 2016.

Rossiter had an injury-hit three years in Scotland, and the 22-year-old is spending the 2019-20 season on loan at League One side Fleetwood Town.

Joao Teixeira

Teixeira won the award in 2014-15 despite spending most of the season on loan at Brighton, where he was also named their Young Player of the Year.

The Portuguese midfielder only played eight times in the Liverpool first team, scoring one against Exeter City in an FA Cup replay.

Liverpool received £250,000 compensation when the player returned to his homeland and joined Porto in 2016, but he failed to make an impact at the Estadio do Dragao.

After making eight appearances for Porto, he spent a season on loan at Braga before moving to Vitoria Guimaraes on a free transfer in 2018.

Brad Smith

Smith had a loan spell at Swindon Town in 2014-15 before returning to Liverpool, winning the Academy Player of the Year award in the following season.

The defender went on to make 10 appearances for the first team in 2015-16 but was deemed surplus to requirements and completed a £3million move to Bournemouth.

However, he has found opportunities hard to come by with the Cherries, spending time on loan in MLS with Seattle Sounders, and recently joined Championship side Cardiff City on loan for the remainder of the season.

Ben Woodburn 

Woodburn overtook Owen as the youngest goalscorer in Liverpool’s history when he struck against Leeds United in 2016 aged just 17 years and 45 days.

The attacking midfielder continued to excel for the club’s Under-23 side, ending the 2016-17 campaign with Liverpool’s Academy Player of the Year award.

His progress has stalled since that initial breakthrough season and the 20-year-old had a underwhelming loan spell at Sheffield United in 2018-19.

The Wales international decided to spend a season in League One with Oxford United but has since fractured both feet in separate incidents, sidelining him since October.

“I feel proud about that goal and becoming Liverpool’s youngest scorer but I don’t want people to just remember me for that moment,” Woodburn told the Daily Mail in 2019.

“I want to push on and do other things, and bigger things. I had to accept at Liverpool with players like Salah and Sadio Mane, you are likely to be dropping down to the Under 23s. I tried to push on in my own way.”

Harry Wilson

Wilson spent half of the 2017-18 season on loan at Hull City in the Championship but still managed to win Liverpool’s Academy Player of the Year award.

The midfielder is currently on his fourth loan spell away from Anfield, experiencing Premier League football for the first time while at Bournemouth.

He has scored six goals in 23 league appearances in 2019-20 and will be hoping to finally break into the Liverpool first team next season.

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