Jon Flanagan learns lessons from the past to secure himself a bright future at Liverpool

 

Jon Flanagan was sitting in the Liverpool Academy listening to Phil Thompson make a speech about how not to become a footballer. The subject of the talk was Flanagan's dad, John.

"Dad used to clean Kenny Dalglish's boots but he didn't make it as a pro," said Jon.

"I remember Phil Thompson telling us how not to go wrong. My dad had told me many stories before so I already knew. He'd lost his own dad at a young age [in a car crash] and went off the rails a bit. His attitude wasn't the best and he messed up really. He's got a building and maintenance company now, a family business, so he's doing okay."

Jon's debut, given to him by the man whose boots his father had cleaned, had a dream-like quality. "Kenny only told me I was playing a few hours before the game; he just told me to go out and do my thing." He would be facing a Manchester City attack of Carlos Tevez, Edin Dzeko and Mario Balotelli. Liverpool won 3-0.

There were fears that Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher were the end of a line; men who knew what a Merseyside derby meant because they had grown up watching them.

"I grew up 200 yards down the road in Utting Avenue," said full-back Flanagan. "When I was younger you would always know when a goal went in, you could hear it from the back garden."

Gerrard is a big Flanagan fan. "I don't think you would judge Jon in terms of ability or skill," said the Liverpool captain. "He is all about heart, desire, determination and fighting for the cause."

Flanagan is a late developer who did not force his way into England's youth teams. "You get young players who shine too early and then fade out but I was the one who kept going, plodding along and finally got in," he said.

* Tony Hateley, who scored 211 League goals during a career that took in Liverpool, Chelsea and Aston Villa, has died aged 72.

West Bromwich v Liverpool is on Sky Sports 1 today, kick-off 1.30pm

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
14 best kids' hoodies

14 best kids' hoodies

Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

The acceptable face of the Emirates

Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk