By 90Min
October 08, 2018

Liverpool home-grown right back Trent Alexander-Arnold turned 20 this week. Although he didn't get his birthday wish of three points against Man City - he was on the bench for the 0-0 draw at Anfield on Sunday - he has a lot to be grateful for.

The phrase 'meteoric rise' is overused in football but quite fitting when talking about Alexander-Arnold. While many players leave behind their teenage years still waiting eagerly for their first chances at senior football, the west Derby-born local who joined Liverpool aged six already has over 50 senior appearances to his name, as well as three England caps. He has played in the Champions League final, at the World Cup, is on the shortlist for the prestigious Golden Boy award and has become the first choice under Jurgen Klopp at his boyhood club.

Image by Chris Deeley

If you're wondering what the young star can't do, chess isn't on that list.

In in an event organised by global cybersecurity giants and World Chess Championship partner, Kaspersky Lab, chess fan Alexander-Arnold took on World Champion Magnus Carlsen in a challenge match on Monday.

While he lost the clash in Manchester in just 17 moves, he did last longer against Carlsen than Bill Gates - who Carlson beat in just 71 seconds back in 2014.

"I just liked to play it when I was younger with my brothers. I think my dad introduced us to it. Ever since then we’ve just enjoyed playing it," Alexander-Arnold told 90min.

On the similarities between football and chess, he said: "I’d say a lot of it is about concentration. You need to focus on your opponent. You’ve got to think about and focus on where they’re trying to attack you and where they are trying to hurt you. That’s the main thing. 

So, who has he played from the Liverpool dressing room?

"I’ve only really played Ben Woodburn. He’s a good opponent, he’s a good test for me. I like to challenge myself against him."

And the player from the world of football Alexander-Arnold would most like to play? Simple, "Messi."

Image by Andrew Headspeath

Liverpool have had a grand tradition, through the glory years of the 70s and 80s right up to the 90s, of blooding through youngsters from the academy. However, in recent times there has been something of a lull in breakthroughs, with Jamie Carragher and Steven Gerrard often held up as the last two to successfully complete the increasingly difficult transition into first team mainstays.

However, Alexander-Arnold's progression over the last season and a half has coincided with a potentially new golden age for Liverpool's academy, with the right back the poster boy for the merits of promoting from within.

The likes of Woodburn, Harry Wilson, Curtis Jones and Ovie Ejaria have all shown potential and are tipped to make the step up sooner rather than later, but Alexander-Arnold remains coy on singling out anyone specifically to be the club's next breakthrough act.

"I wouldn’t say anyone specifically," he said when asked if there's anyone who he's tipping to make the grade from the current youth crop. "I’d say there’s obviously a lot of talent coming through the academy and there’s a lot of players coming through and it’s hard to single anyone out. 

"But there's a huge pool of talent there in the academy at the minute that have got huge potential to come through and be a success at the club."

Julian Finney/GettyImages

Unsurprisingly for a local lad of his age, Alexander-Arnold cites Gerrard as his childhood hero, but looked further afield for influences on how to improve his own game at right back.


"My idol was always Steven Gerrard when I was growing up, but when I was a bit older looking at right backs I’d look at the likes of Philipp Lahm, Dani Alves because they were the world’s best and they were the two that I wanted to be on the same level as."

Included in Gareth Southgate's England squad for the upcoming Nations League fixtures against Spain and Croatia, Alexander-Arnold made just one appearance for the Three Lions at the World Cup in Russia over the summer (the 1-0 group stage defeat to Belgium). However, it's still something he recalls as his proudest moment in his young career.

"Just being there as a part of it, able to represent my country, with my friends and family in the stands just made me really really proud," he said. 

Fred Lee/GettyImages

The youngest player in the squad in Russia and the third youngest in the current group, is it still surreal to see his name on there after such a meteoric rise? 

"Yeah, I think obviously it always will be. I always will be really honoured whenever I get called up and get a chance to represent my country. It’s such a huge honour and a privilege to be a part of it.

With seven uncapped stars in the current England squad including Jadon Sancho and James Maddison, Alexander Arnold's advice to the newbies is refreshingly simple.

"Just enjoy it, try not to be too nervous. And settle in as quick as possible and I’m sure the lads will be as welcoming as how they were with me."

To watch the match again search #TAAvMagnus on Twitter, visit Kaspersky Lab’s YouTube or watch it now on Trent’s Instagram.

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