Trent Alexander-Arnold: 'Captaining Liverpool a dream'
Captaining Liverpool is something full-back Trent Alexander-Arnold has "always dreamed of" and "would love to do one day".
The 21-year-old, born and raised in the city, is one short of 100 games for the club he made his debut for in 2016.
He became the youngest player to start two consecutive Champions League finals when Liverpool beat Tottenham in June.
Alexander-Arnold also said he has never thought about leaving Liverpool and "can't see that changing".
In a wide-ranging interview with BBC Radio 5 Live's Guillem Balague for the Euro Leagues podcast, Alexander-Arnold spoke about:
- His name being picked out of a hat to play for Liverpool
- Learning to curb his anger during his teenage years
- Having posters in his bedroom of Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher
- Being given freedom to play by boss Jurgen Klopp
You can listen to the full interview on BBC Radio 5 Live from 21:00 GMT on Thursday. It is also available on our Football Daily podcast.
'Liverpool was destined to be my club'
Alexander-Arnold will reach a century of appearances if he plays against Aston Villa in the Premier League on Saturday, but the landmark is not his biggest ambition at the club.
The England international said: "I am not shy in saying that [being captain] is a dream for me. Whether it comes true or not is not up to me; I don't pick who is captain.
"But that is something I would love to do one day. Captaining Liverpool is something I have always dreamed of and it is something that motivates me.
"I have always been a Liverpool player, Liverpool has always been my home. I have never thought about changing clubs.
"I always thought Liverpool was destined to be my club. When I grew up, the dream was always to play for Liverpool. Now I am living the dream and I can't see that changing."
But he explained how a lottery draw when he was six years old set him on the path to where he is today.
"It was a normal day at school coming up to half term and there was a summer camp going on at the [Liverpool] academy," he said. "They sent six or seven invites to my school. It was about encouraging young players to play football.
"Every child wanted to go, so names were picked out of a hat and mine came out. I went down on the Saturday with mum, nervous as anything - excited, couldn't sleep.
"I was nervous to see if I was going to fit in, if I was any good or not. I went in the morning and it was within the first hours, one of the members of staff went over to my mum and said: 'Can you start bringing him two or three times a week?'"
'When I was misbehaving in school, I wouldn't be allowed to train'
Alexander-Arnold grew up in the West Derby area of Liverpool and came up through the age groups at the club, captaining the Under-16 and Under-18 teams.
He said: "When I was 13 and at secondary school, the Liverpool academy started a scheme of bringing players out of school for two afternoons a week. You miss afternoon lessons to go training. But the school was reluctant to let me go; they wanted me to focus on education.
"Mum and dad always drilled into me: Education came before football. If I was naughty at school, I wasn't allowed to play football. The school wouldn't let me leave, so mum and dad made the choice to change my school so I could play more football.
"When I was misbehaving in school, I wouldn't be allowed to train. Mum would call the coach and say that I'd been naughty and would not be training."
He comes across as a mild-mannered player, but that was not always the case.
"When I was making mistakes, I was a sore loser," he said. "My reaction wasn't right. If I made a mistake, I would be out of the game for a minute or two. If I lost at the end of training, I would kick balls away, make a bad tackle. But I realised that wasn't the right way.
"Alex Inglethorpe, the first coach who stood up against me, told me that would hold me back and it was something we worked on for one season to make sure it stopped happening.
"It would eat me up a lot - but after you calmed down, you would realise how bad you have been; how it is not OK to treat people like that. It is about working hard, using your mentality as a positive and motivation."
'The 2005 parade came past our house'
Alexander-Arnold first went to Anfield as a supporter in the spring of 2005, as Liverpool were in the midst of a memorable Champions League run under the management of Rafael Benitez.
He said: "My first game at Anfield was the Juventus Champions League quarter-final in 2005. We won 2-1. It is hard to describe; it was loud, chaos, so many bodies. I was still small, I was looking and trying to see things.
"I was walking up the steps and seeing the warm-ups, the bright lights, the songs. It was probably the most special game I have ever been to. It was my first one and I always wanted a taste of that."
Liverpool went on to win the trophy that season, coming back from three goals down to beat AC Milan on penalties in an extraordinary final in Istanbul.
"We were on the front wall when the parade came past our house, all our mates came," Alexander-Arnold said.
"The players then were everything, I had posters in my room of Gerrard and Carragher.
"I understand young kids in the city will think of me like that and that gives me a responsibility to be a good role model. There is stuff on and off the pitch that you have to do to show a good example."
Alexander-Arnold was given his first-team debut by Jurgen Klopp in October 2016, when Liverpool beat Spurs 2-1 in the fourth round of the EFL Cup.
He has since gone on to have his own big European nights. There was heartbreak in May 2018 as Liverpool lost the Champions League final 3-1 to Real Madrid in Kiev, but exhilaration a year later as Tottenham were defeated 2-0 in Madrid.
Alexander-Arnold started both finals, and credits Klopp with developing him into the sort of player who can deal with those occasions.
"He is someone who really made me who I am today," the defender said. "He has pushed me to get better on a day-to-day basis. He has given me so many opportunities, I could never repay him."
Racism is 'embarrassing' in this day and age
Alexander-Arnold has won seven international caps for England and was part of the squad for October's 6-0 European Championship qualifying win in Bulgaria, a match marred by racist abuse directed towards the Three Lions players by home fans.
Bulgaria were punished by Uefa by being given a two-game stadium ban - with half of that punishment suspended for two years.
"It was difficult, it was tough," Alexander-Arnold said. "Personally I had never faced it before. We got told there was the potential of it happening and we got told we had to follow certain procedures and that is what we did. The team handled it very well.
"We want to play football, win games and do our country proud. To face something like that is massively disappointing and something that should not be happening in this day and age; it is embarrassing.
"But these sort of things happen and you need to get your head round them and come out as the bigger people. That is what we did."