At just 20 years of age, Corey Whelan has experienced something that every Liverpool fan dreams of on a regular basis, captaining his beloved Reds.
“I was made captain of the U23’s last September and it’s a massive achievement for me,” Whelan told Anfield Edition.
“My dad’s a massive Red and that’s been passed down to me, so to be able to wear an armband for the club you support, and walk a group of players out every week is something very special.”
Growing up in the Gerrard era meant there was no surprise as to who Whelan’s idol was when I asked.
“Steven Gerrard. Mr Liverpool. He had everything as a player, he’s won pretty much everything and obviously he’s dead passionate about the club, so as a kid growing up I wanted to be him.”
“He’s back at the club now training the youth team and he’s a really nice bloke. To be honest, he’s just a normal person, he’s really humble and he’s always about to help us.”
“He’s lived it himself, he’s been there and done it all with the club, and obviously that level is where all the youngsters at Liverpool want to be and where we’re all trying to reach.”
Chester-born Whelan has been with the academy since 2007, having joined from Crewe Alexandra where current U23 boss Neil Critchley managed him.
“I was with Critch at Crewe before I joined Liverpool, so I was familiar with him from an early age.”
“For him to join Liverpool a couple of years after me was perfect, we’ve gone right the way through the age groups together and he’s now my manager at the U23’s, it’s great working under him and he get’s the best out of you everyday.”
Whelan signed a new long-term deal at Liverpool just before Christmas and is eager to repay the faith shown in him by the club.
“When you get offered a contract by such a big club, you’ve got to grab it with both hands and think to yourself ‘right the hard work carries on because you haven’t cracked it as a player just yet’.”
“That’s why I’ve chosen to come out on loan really, to get some first-team experience and hopefully to develop some more and become a player that could eventually play for Liverpool.”
Corey is currently on loan at Yeovil Town in League Two, and when he returns to Liverpool he’s hoping to get involved in the first-team training sessions at Melwood.
“Opportunities don’t come as often as you’d like to get in front of the managers’ eyes, but he’s definitely a believer of that you’re good enough, you’ll play, and that your age doesn’t matter.”
“This year Trent [Alexander-Arnold] and Ben [Woodburn] have been in and around the first-team and they’ve been a big part of Liverpool’s season so far, so when you see your mates do that it only pushes you on to do well and make that step up.”
Since being loaned out to the Glovers, Whelan has experienced a different type of football to what he’s used to, but he’s relishing every second of it.
“The football’s different, it’s very different actually. The balls not on the ground as much as it is at U23’s, but that’s just the way the game is played at this level.”
“League Two is really intense, there’s loads of experienced players in the league and they play to a really high level, so for myself personally it’s been great to learn off them, the gaffer and his coaching staff, and I’m really enjoying it.”
To finish the interview, Corey discussed what he aims to achieve in his career, not just with Liverpool, but as a footballer.
“When you tie it all together, my overall aim in football is to play as many games as possible and win as many trophies as possible.”
“It’s a short career, people say it’s not but it really is. I obviously want to play at the highest level and as a kid, I had dreams of playing in the Champions League and at the World Cup, but I’m just gonna carry on working hard, working on me and seeing where it takes me.”