A lot of Liverpool fans have spoken with excitement about our current crop of academy players. Our American owners have put a lot of time and effort into reinvigorating the youth team and their efforts were rewarded with a second place finish in this year’s reserve league.
Having seen both Raheem Sterling and Jordon Ibe make the step up from the Under-21s over the last couple of years, we’re all hoping that the likes of Jerome Sinclair, Sheyi Ojo, Harry Wilson and more can follow in those well-trodden footsteps and break into Brendan Rodgers’ first-team plans.
However, not since 2008 have the Reds won the junior version of the Premier League – beating Aston Villa in the competition’s final. The National Cup, as it was called then, completed an unprecedented treble for the Reds, who also captured the Dallas Cup and the Northern Division championship.
In the list below, we take a look at the squad that played Villa that day – winning 3-0 – and see if there’s any subsequent stories of success for our current starlets to take inspiration from.
GK) Peter Gulacsi
Despite remaining with Liverpool until 2013, the Hungarian never made a senior appearance for us. He joined Red Bull Salzburg the summer before last and has since made 60 league appearances, winning back-to-back titles.
RB) Stephen Darby
Darby stayed at Anfield until 2012 and did manage one top flight appearance. After a series of loan moves he made a permanent switch to Bradford City, helping them earn promotion to League One and reach the League Cup final.
LB) Emiliano Insua
The Argentine had only just joined the club from Boca Juniors. He would become a Liverpool regular during the 2009-10 season, playing 44 times in all competitions. He’s now playing for Rayo Vallecano – on loan from Atletico Madrid – and has also won four caps for his country.
CB) Mikel San Jose
Now 26, the Spaniard is arguably the pick of this team. He’s won a couple of caps for his country and become a fixture in the Athletic Bilbao side. He’s played almost 200 times for them and has picked up three runners-up medals, including one in the Europa League in 2012.
CB) Ronald Huth
No relation to Robert Huth – the current Stoke City defender – Ronald left Liverpool in 2009. He’s currently in his second spell with Tacuary, a Paraguayan football team. He won a single cap for the same country in 2011.
DM) Damien Plessis
The Frenchman was supposed to be the next big thing. He managed three Premier League appearance for Liverpool but was never able to make himself a permanent fixture. He’s currently with La Berrichonne in the French second division. He had a brief loan spell with Doncaster Rovers in 2012.
CM) Lucas Leiva
The Brazilian was in his first season at Liverpool and despite playing 32 times for the first-team during the 2007-08 campaign, he was drafted in for this match. He’s since played an impressive 275 times and become a firm fan favourite at Anfield.
RM) Nabil El Zhar
The once promising young winger actually managed 21 Premier League appearance for Liverpool, as well as two goals. He’s been with Levante since 2011 and has also won 24 caps for Morocco, making his a decent career.
LM) Ryan Flynn
Left Liverpool without playing a single game. He joined Falkirk before returning to England with Sheffield United in 2011. He’s since made over 100 appearance for the Blades and inspired them to an FA Cup semi-final.
ST) Jordy Brouwer
The Dutchman was never able to make the grade at Liverpool, despite being one of our top scorers in this campaign. He’s since had a fairly forgettable career in the Netherlands and is now with Delfia Hollandia Combinatie in the Sunday Hoofdklasse A league… no, we’d never heard of them either.
ST) Krisztian Nemeth
Who remembers this guy? He was really highly rated at Anfield but was never able to earn a Premier League debut. His career has taken him around the continent, most notably to Greece with Olympiacos, and he’s now playing in the MLS with Sporting Kansas City.
Dean Bouzanis – Australian goalkeeper who spent time with Oldham. Now with the Western Sydney Wanderers.
Dani Pacheco – Attacking midfielder who played five times in the Premier League, now with Real Betis.
Craig Lindfield – Worked his way down the English football pyramid, now with FC United of Manchester.
Martin Kelly – One-time England international who joined Crystal Palace last summer.
Andras Simon – Hungarian striker, now with Paksi SE in his homeland.