Jay Spearing is back at Liverpool FC almost ten years after leaving the childhood club and continuing his career down the English league system. He spent last season with Tranmere, and when his contract expired after the season, Liverpool were quick to contact the scouser about a role at the academy.
The 33-year-old will work as a playing coach. The main job will be to train the young boys on the U18 team. At the same time, he will be used as one of the five senior players allowed to be used on the U21 team in the Premier League 2.
On Monday, the academy began its season run-up at the AXA Training Center in Kirkby, and Spearing says he is very pleased with the first three days at work.
– I was looking at a house when the club announced that I was back. Then it got really wild on the phone with messages that wished me all the best. Former teammates like Steven Gerrard, Jamie Carragher and Pepe Reina have been in touch, and that means a lot. After three days at work, I want to say that it is the best decision I have made, Spearing says in an interview with The Athletic.
It was academy director Alex Inglethorpe’s idea to bring Spearing home to the club in a playing coaching role. He has seen how Steven Gerrard and Marc Bridge-Wilkinson have trained young players while still having a lot of football in their legs.
– You can of course train from the outside. But being a trainer is about more than putting out cones and workouts. Especially on the U18 team, we see the advantages of someone setting the standard for training every day at the same time as they can interact with the players in the form of playing football, says Inglethorpe.
The head of the academy has been impressed by Spearing the first week.
– I have rarely seen anyone be so enthusiastic about taking on a role and the way Jay has done it so far. I think Jay has made the decision based on where he sees himself over the next five or ten years. If he enters the coaching role in the same way as he did as a young player, by getting all the potential out of himself, I have no doubt that he will become a very good coach, says Inglethorpe.
Spearing says he became more and more convinced of Inglethorpe’s idea.
– When Alex first explained the possibility to me, I was a little put off. I thought what a privilege this must be. The fact that a man of his caliber and with the status he has sees me as the right man for the job gave me a lot of confidence. I had to have some time to think because I want to play as long as possible, but the more I thought about it, the more convinced I became that this is the right step for me. It was really an easy decision. “I am very happy that Alex and the club believe in me, and I will make sure that they do the right thing,” the former midfielder told Liverpool.
Do not play stuck
Inglethorpe is clear that Spearing will not take the place of any young and promising on the U21 team of Barry Lewtas, but that from time to time it will be natural to use the 33-year-old in matches. At U21 level, there can often be a shortage of players if many are brought up to the first team, many are loaned out, there are a lot of injuries or the matches are played at the same time as the U18 team. Therefore, there will probably be some playing time.
But Spearing is aware that he is first and foremost in as a coach and mentor.
– If any of the boys need advice on anything, I’m always open for a chat. It is my job to help them on their way to the first team. In the long run, I have a goal to lead my own team as Stevie has done and eventually become a first team coach, but it is far in the future.
– I feel like a kid on Christmas Eve. It’s surreal to be back, but it’s a wonderful feeling. This was my home from the time I was seven to 23. I am a Liverpool supporter, so having the liverbird on my chest again will be special, and it is a very exciting time to return to the club, he says.
Spearing played 55 first-team matches for Liverpool and won a triumph in the League Cup in 2012. He started the FA Cup final the same year. Since leaving Liverpool in 2013, he has played for Bolton, Blackburn, Blackpool and Tranmere.
– I always dreamed of playing for the first team and managed to achieve it before I got a great career. I have loved every single minute. Now is the time for the next chapter, and it is to help these boys make their dreams come true.