|First Name: Leighton|
Last Name: Clarkson
DOB: October 19, 2001
Birthplace: Blackburn, UK
“In Germany, there’s a famous player who played similar to him…I am really happy to give him his opportunity because he deserves it.” Jurgen Klopp was full of high praise for Leighton Clarckson in an interview he gave with The Athletic. The young English talent is one of Liverpool FC’s most intriguing prospects, with Reds fans eager to see what he has to offer the club’s future.
Born in 2001, Clarkson’s football journey began in a way that would put a smile on any Liverpool fan’s face. The Reds youngster was recruited by the club at the age of seven after being handpicked by a scout while playing for Clitheroe Wolves. Being a highly-coveted talent, the lad from Blackburn had his pick of clubs. However, as he told LFCTV in an interview, “it was only going to be Liverpool.” What makes that comment even sweeter for Liverpool fans is the fact that amongst the clubs that scouted him and were turned down were their arch-rivals Manchester United.
His professional debut came in 2019, in the infamous EFL Cup match against Aston Villa, when the youth squad took the field as the senior team was competing in the Club World Cup thousands of miles away. The game did not yield a good result, with the young Reds losing 5-0 to the Villains. Almost exactly a year later, Clarkson would make his Champions League debut against at the age of 19 FC Midtjylland. This would be a great day for the Liverpool academy. Wearing the armband that day was local hero Trent Alexander-Arnold, two academy players featured in the center of defense, and Clarkson was arguably Liverpool’s best player in that match.
His Champions League debut got Liverpool fans excited and talking. Others started to realize why Klopp had compared him to Phillip Lahm. Clarkson was similar to Lahm in build: standing at only 5’9” he is not an imposing midfielder like Fabinho or even Gerrard. Just like Lahm, Clarkson has an impressive passing range, something that was on full display in the game against Midtjylland.
He is also extremely versatile. An excellent goal scorer, Clarkson was actually converted into a striker upon arriving at Liverpool. With a knack for scoring goals and a great awareness of his positioning on the pitch, he was a reliable striker for the LFC Academy. He recently made the switch back to midfield to take advantage of his other skills.
Clarkson’s hero growing up was Steven Gerrard. He was fortunate enough to train under the now-Rangers manager. In an interview with Liverpoolfc.com, Clarkson spoke of how he would stay after training sessions, along with Adam Lewis, to practice free kicks with Gerrard: “I’ve always thought in my head after my sessions, ‘Try to get 10, 20 minutes just hitting free kicks’.”
With a work ethic that can only benefit his development, talent that is highly praised by the Liverpool manager, and an incredible performance in the Champions League as a teenager, Liverpool fans excitedly await what Clarkson will bring to the club moving forward.