Curtis Jones has revealed how hearing some ‘harsh truths’ from Steven Gerrard when the latter was his Liverpool under-18s coach helped him to realise his full potential.
The Anfield legend worked with the current first-team midfielder when he was in his teenage years, and the now 22-year-old spoke of the blunt advice given to him by his boss during the academy days.
Speaking about Gerrard on the latest episode of the We Are Liverpool podcast, Jones outlined: “I remember when he came in – I don’t want to say what he said – it was good but it was not nice. It wasn’t nice. It was like the harsh truths.
“I’ll say a little bit: ‘I gave you the 10 shirt on your back because I want you to be my main lad in my team and I want to build the team around you, but you didn’t show enough’.”
The current Liverpool midfielder added: “There was a game that he said, this is was what stuck in my head a lot – where I wanted to show him that anything you need from me I’ll do it – we’d been beaten by Fulham and he said I’d been tackled and the lad had stood over and said something while I’d been on the floor.
“He turned around to me and said, ‘what did you do about it?!’ I said, ‘I can’t remember’, and he said, ‘well, I’ll tell you, you did nothing!’
“I sat there and thought, ‘you’re right’. This is my club, there are people like you who have played your whole life here and even came back to the academy and now you’re a coach, you want to give your all to the club. There are people like me, I’m a Scouser myself, I don’t understand the situation I’m in. I need to grow up here and need to be a man.”
Jones went on to praise Gerrard for the ‘connection’ they forged when working together for the under-18s and stressed that the former Liverpool captain would also praise him when ‘doing well’ in addition to offering the requisite constructive criticism.
Jones is among a handful of players from the Liverpool under-18 squad that Gerrard managed in 2017/18 who’ve gone on to either break into the senior ranks at Anfield or forge first-team careers elsewhere, such as Caoimhin Kelleher, Neco Williams and Rhys Williams.
However, many of his teammates from that time have either filtered down through the leagues or failed to make a breakthrough of any kind.
It’s therefore a testament to the Toxteth native’s character – and indeed ability – that he’s since gone on to play 106 times under Jurgen Klopp, with a decent return of 11 goals and 12 assists from midfield (Transfermarkt).
Gerrard knows better than anyone what it takes to progress from Liverpool’s academy and go on to become a club legend, so when he was dispensing advice to the then-teenagers in his under-18 squad, it was in their best interests to take the feedback on board.
It seems Jones has done just that, now adorning the number 17 shirt which was worn by the legendary former captain at a similar age at Anfield, and it’s fair to say that the tuition from the 43-year-old played a massive part in the current Reds ace successfully graduating from the underage ranks to become a senior stalwart in L4.