sport news TRENT ALEXANDER-ARNOLD INTERVIEW: Liverpool's poster boy hungry for more success

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Trent Alexander-Arnold sits at a table on the balcony at the Liverpool training ground and gazes down towards Melwood Drive in the distance. The top half of a double decker bus appears now and then above the wall and glides on towards the city centre. Alexander-Arnold follows the line of our pointing fingers and looks at something that is not there.

There was a squat brick building in the corner once where the changing rooms and the gym used to be in the Seventies and Eighties and where the players had tea and toast in the canteen before they went out to train. At the end of every season, Bob Paisley and Joe Fagan packed away the trophies or medals that had been won and told the players they meant nothing now.

Alexander-Arnold knows all the Liverpool lore. He lived close to the training ground when he was a kid. Long after the brick building had been razed, he stood on dustbins or the top of his mum's car to peer over the wall to try to get a glimpse of Steven Gerrard or Xabi Alonso training at Melwood. He was a kid at the gates, peering in.

Trent Alexander-Arnold went great lengths to see Liverpool as a kid, now he's their poster boy

Trent Alexander-Arnold went great lengths to see Liverpool as a kid, now he's their poster boy

Now, he is a symbol of the new Liverpool. He is the poster boy for the success of the club's academy at Kirkby on the outskirts of the city and when Liverpool move their first-team facilities to a lavish new £50million training ground on the academy site next summer, Alexander-Arnold says it will feel like coming home.

Amid the orgy of nostalgia at the leaving of Melwood, some will mourn a break with the past, but there is general acknowledgment that the move will mark another leap forward for the club as they try to re-establish themselves as the dominant force in English football. 

Liverpool are a club in a hurry again. Alexander-Arnold, a 20-year-old who has already played in two Champions League finals, is the personification of the pace of change.

He talks about the club's ambition with a maturity and an eloquence beyond his years and as he articulates the nagging regrets that accompanied everything Liverpool achieved last season, it is easy to see the link between him and the glorious past of a club who were once a byword for the relentlessness of their success and who are striving to climb to the summit again.

Many thought that after losing the titanic struggle with Manchester City for the Premier League title last season, finishing second despite losing only once all season and accruing 97 points, Liverpool would sag this season. Instead, they face Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Sunday having started their campaign with five straight wins.

Liverpool won the Champions League last season, club football's biggest prize, and yet listening to Alexander-Arnold, it still only feels as if they are on the brink of something. There is no sense that that triumph in Madrid marked the end of a great quest. At Liverpool, the belief is that it was an aperitif. The club are greedy for honours again, like they used to be.

It's easy to see the link between the 20-year-old defender and the club's glorious past

It's easy to see the link between the 20-year-old defender and the club's glorious past

'When we won the Champions League last season,' says Alexander-Arnold, 'the celebrations were incredible. But it wasn't even a week of pure joy. We still weren't satisfied. The attitude was that it would have been better if it was the double that we had done. We told ourselves that that was what we needed to push for this season.

'We know that we're capable of it. We won the Champions League and we were two points off winning the league. So how can we make up those two points and win it this season? We'd won the Champions League but the thought process was, 'This isn't enough'.

'We don't want to be remembered as that Liverpool team that only won the Champions League. We want to be the team that people can't remember how many trophies we have won because we won so many. If someone mentions Liverpool winning the Premier League, we want people to say, "Which one?" or "What year was that? Was that number 19? Was that 21?"

'We want people to be confused about how many trophies we won. We don't want to be remembered as the team who missed out to Manchester City in a great title race. We don't want to be the team that nearly did it. We want to be the team that did it.'

He said winning Champions League last season was not enough to satisfy Liverpool's players

He said winning Champions League last season was not enough to satisfy Liverpool's players

Alexander-Arnold represents much of the best of the new Liverpool. Many, including his manager, Jurgen Klopp, rate him the best right-back in the world but he is without arrogance or entitlement. He asks for nothing, people at the club say. He makes the most community appearances of any Liverpool player. He is low-key and low maintenance, a man who believes in the importance of manners and politeness.

Alexander-Arnold spent the early years of his secondary education at the private St Mary's College, in Crosby, north of Liverpool before moving to a state school at Rainhill. He has seen both sides of the system. 'There were a lot of dynamic people at both my schools,' he said. 'I got a lot of opportunities to play different sports at St Mary's. I loved it.'

If they say one thing about him above all others, though, it is that he is resilient. He gets knocked down and he gets up again. He treats setbacks as learning experiences. It happened when Marcus Rashford got the better of him at Old Trafford the season before last. It was the same when he struggled against Wilfried Zaha. He rebounds from it. He comes back better.

'If people criticise me, I make sure it doesn't happen again,' he says. 'Learn from it. You don't like the criticism, so why would you let it happen again.'

It is easy to extrapolate that and apply it to the pain Liverpool felt when they missed out to City last season. Their response has been to come flying out of the blocks and build the biggest lead any team has ever had at this stage of a campaign. 

'That Barca corner was instinctive'

Liverpool performed one of the greatest comebacks in Champions League history last season when they beat Barcelona 4-0 at Anfield to overcome a three-goal, first-leg deficit in their semi-final.

For many, the highlight of the game was Trent Alexander-Arnold’s improvised corner late in the game — when he pretended to walk away from the kick, and then dashed back to swing it into the box — which led to Liverpool’s decisive goal, scored by Divock Origi.

‘We hadn’t practised it,’ Alexander-Arnold says. ‘It was just instinctive. I just saw an opportunity and took it. I saw people turning their backs, people not looking at the ball, I saw the keeper

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