The 18-year-old marked his Champions League debut with a stunning free-kick beyond Olivier Baumann as Jürgen Klopp’s team recorded a valuable 2-1 win in the first leg of the play-offs. Alexander-Arnold, who joined Liverpool’s academy as a six-year-old, has long been touted as a player with first-team potential with Gerrard regularly championing his cause.
Liverpool’s former captain, and Alexander-Arnold’s boyhood hero, described the teenager as “a beauty” when he returned to Anfield last season and the right-back admits he is driven to fulfil that promise. “It’s always good to get compliments from your idol and I am hoping to live up to his words,” Alexander-Arnold said. “It is always good to have his backing and support.
“It was indescribable to be honest [scoring the opener against Hoffenheim]. Special in so many different ways for me personally and I’ve definitely ticked the box off. At first I didn’t know it was going to go in but it was well placed and I thought it was a good free-kick. I’ve been practising free-kicks but I didn’t think the senior players would let me take it. In the end they did and I did well for the team.”
Alexander-Arnold seized his chance to claim a starting role in Klopp’s team this summer with Nathaniel Clyne sidelined through injury and insists the growing attention will not distract him. “I don’t tend to think about it,” he said. “I just go to Melwood every day and try to fight for my position for the weekend and that’s what I’ll be doing on Wednesday. You can’t take for granted that you are going to play again and you have to try to keep your spot and that is what I am trying to go and do this week.”
Klopp’s insistence that Alexander-Arnold “still has some things to learn” was underlined late on when he appealed in vain for offside against Hoffenheim substitute Mark Uth, who scored to bring Julian Nagelsmann’s side back into the tie.
The teenager admitted: “We are pleased with the win but also disappointed with the late goal. It is a bit sickening we conceded so late on but we can’t let that affect us as we still have another 90 minutes to play at Anfield. We can’t take anything for granted because they are really good opposition and anything can happen especially in European games. We have to go with a game plan and look to finish it off and get into the group stages.”
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