By 90Min
October 04, 2017

Barcelona and Espanyol were extremely keen to land Liverpool wonderkid Ben Woodburn as a school boy, according to the winger's former PE teacher.

Mark Lindley, who coached the then 12-year-old at Bishop Heber Primary School in Cheshire, told the Daily Mirror how the Reds starlet may have ended up residing in Spain instead only five years ago had either La Liga side got their wish to sign him.

Woodburn is expected to be the next big thing to emerge from Liverpool's youth academy, and Lindley recalled the moment that the 17-year-old impressed the youth staff of both Catalan clubs during a school football tournament on the continent.

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He explained: “I knew Ben when he was eight because of the school sports events we held and also because of my previous involvement at Liverpool’s academy.

“Even at that age, you could see he was something special, an ­exceptional talent.

“He was always a very quiet boy when he was at school but it was a different world when you saw him on the pitch. He could score from anywhere, often scoring four, five or six goals a game from all over the pitch. Straight away you knew there was something special about him.

“At school he played in central midfield and I remember he came on tour with us to Barcelona, aged 12. We were training with ­Espanyol and Barcelona and he didn’t look out of place.

“I remember the Espanyol coaches thought he was something special. They wanted to sign him.”

Woodburn announced himself on the world stage with a dream debut goal in his first ever senior Wales appearance - the Liverpool ace's spectacular strike handing the Red Dragons a huge 1-0 victory over Austria in September.

Michael Steele/GettyImages

He is part of Chris Coleman's senior squad for the crucial October World Cup qualifiers against Georgia and the Republic of Ireland, and Lindley revealed why Woodburn had opted to nail his colours to the Welsh mast rather than England's.

He added: “He was ­always going to get more opportunities with Wales and has been in the Welsh system a number of years, moving up through the age groups. The environment was very good and relaxed for Ben to come through.

“To have someone like that from the school is an inspiration for the students to see what they can achieve. Both myself and the school are immensely proud of what he has achieved.”

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