Taken from Saturday’s programme with Ipswich Town, David Mitchell caught up with on-loan midfielder Jordan Rossiter after an impressive start to life on the Fylde Coast.
Despite being born into a family of proud Evertonians, twenty-two year old Jordan Rossiter has much to thank their rivals across Stanley Park for.
“When you grow up in a family of Blues, it’s the way to be. Dad was a season ticket holder and I used to go regularly to Goodison Park. I didn’t particularly model myself on anyone in particular but I loved watching Duncan Ferguson, Tim Cahill and Lee Carsley. David Moyes was the manager at the time followed by a little bit of Roberto Martinez before I became too busy otherwise.”
At the tender age of six, Jordan was a member of the Liverpool Academy.
“I had been in the Scotland Road league for a team called The Brams at the age of five. Soon after, I started at the academy where I stayed until the age of nineteen. I enjoyed school, seeing my mates every day, but being a professional footballer was always my dream. Although I was to miss time at school, the Academy made sure that the educational stuff was dealt with. My two grandads ran me up and down to Kirkby, where the Academy was based, when Dad was in work.
“Liverpool is a fantastic club and it was a wonderful experience to come through their set-up. It grew me as a footballer and as a person. I had a brilliant time and can’t thank the coaches enough. There are thousands of kids out there who would have loved to have that experience so I count myself lucky that I was able to.”
The Academy clearly rated their recruit, describing him as ‘an authoritative central midfield presence’ with an ‘extensive passing repertoire with either foot and an eye for goal.’ I read the tribute out to him.
“That’s very generous, I’ll take that!’ was the response.
Jordan’s progress was such that he quickly got used to playing alongside older team-mates. He debuted for the Under 18’s on his fifteenth birthday and played at the year above whilst still the same age!
“I remember that U18’s game well. We played against West Bromwich Albion at Kirkby. The U19 chance as a fifteen year old came as a bit of a shock at the time. It was in their Champions League competition against Inter Milan. I wasn’t told until the day before.”
His performance prompted Liverpool legend Robbie Fowler to compare Jordan with another legendary red, Steven Gerrard.
“That hit home, coming from such a great player. However, I’m a down to earth sort of person. I’ll never get too carried away. I take things a day at a time and can’t complain.”
It is a similar approach to a former Fleetwood midfielder from the Liverpool club, Cameron Brannagan, who I interviewed a couple of years ago.
“I saw a lot of Cam. He was a year older, I think, but we played a lot of football together. I particularly remember our first year in the reserves. He’s a great lad. Obviously, he will do well in the future.”
In the 2013-14 season, Jordan was a permanent fixture in the U21 Premier League and was named Academy Player of the Year.
“That league was another great experience. Sometimes we played at the actual grounds but not always. Liverpool played regularly at St. Helens. The following season came the UEFA Youth League where the youngsters mirrored the matches being played by the first team in the Champions League. I played the likes of Real Madrid, FC Basel and Benfica. You travelled with the first team and we played during the day. The first team coaches would watch so it was a great opportunity.”
Liverpool manager, Brendan Rodgers, saw potential and promoted the young midfielder to first team training.
“Brendan Rodgers played a massive part in my development. His man-management and coaching skills were brilliant and I fed off it. He believed in me which meant a lot. It stood me in good stead. I got on to the bench a few times, starting at Chelsea. There were a lot of injuries at the time which promoted me but I was very young and didn’t realistically expect too much.”
A first team debut eventually happened, a reward for his patience and development. It was on 23rd September 2014, at the age of seventeen. It was a League Cup Third round tie against Middlesbrough at Anfield, a game which will live in the memory for a thirty-shot penalty shoot-out, eventually won by Liverpool. It was an outcome that took some of the attention from the debutant’s own dramatic moment during the game.
“I was at the Academy the day before and got the nod because they needed to make up players. I did the training with the first team, went home and the next thing I know we are in the pre-match meeting and I’m getting told I’m starting! I was a bit taken aback to be honest. It was a nearly full house and my family were in amongst them.”
Jordan made a great start, scoring with a low drive from thirty yards. He was typically modest about the achievement.
“The goal was a bit lucky to be honest! The keeper helped me out a lot.”
He thus became the second youngest player to score for Liverpool, behind Michael Owen.
“I’m third now after Ben Woodburn scored against Leeds United, also in the League Cup, two years later.”
A long-awaited Premier League debut came eleven months later after twelve years in the academy, on as a substitute for Lucas Leiva at Arsenal.
“That was a great feeling and there was another milestone for me a month later with my European debut in a Europa League game at Bordeaux. I played for around eighty minutes, before being replaced by Cameron Brannagan.”
Despite the outstanding progress through the Liverpool ranks, an unfortunate series of injuries have hindered progress.
“It’s not a secret that I’ve had a tough time with injuries. Ankles, calves and hamstrings have all given me problems. At the time it’s tough but I feel that it has grown me as a person. You have to fight back and stay positive. I’m really grateful to be fit at the minute.”
There would have been more international opportunities had injuries not intervened. Jordan has represented England on fifteen occasions in the age groups from U16 to U19 level.
“I’m proud of the opportunities that I’ve had when you consider the large pool of players to choose from. Yes, I could have played more times but have to be happy with the number of caps I got. There were some top players around me. Tammy Abraham, whose putting them away for Chelsea at the minute, Tomori at Chelsea, Schalke’s Jonjoe Kenny and Everton’s Tom Davies, to name a few.”
Brendan Rodgers claimed that Jordan would never go out on loan and was proved right. His departure from a club that had given him so much came in May 2016 when he joined Rangers on a four-year deal.
“You don’t realise how big Rangers is until you get there. You get quite taken aback by it at first. I was getting noticed just walking along the street. I lived only down the road from Matt Gilks so we travelled in together. Unfortunately, I never played in an Old Firm game but spent one on the bench and it was a totally different atmosphere to anything I’d experienced before. I will always be grateful to the physio team at the club. They got to the root of my injuries and sent me for treatment at St George’s Park for a lower back issue. That was a big help and I got back.”
A Europa League game against Luxembourg opposition was followed by another spell out of the game. On his return, Jordan scored his first goal for Rangers, against Hibernian in 2018.
”It was the last game of the season and ended 5-5! It was crazy, just like basketball!”
2019 has been a particularly rewarding calendar year, starting with a loan period at League Two Bury.
“It was brilliant. I learnt a lot from Ryan Lowe and Steve Schumacher and got myself a promotion at the end of the season. They had such great people around them and throughout the club. I was devastated when they went out of existence because I had such an amazing time there. That should never have happened to such a good club. I will always look back on that time affectionately.”
“Over the summer, I knew that I was not in the plans at Rangers. I know the gaffer here from his time in Glasgow and although a few other clubs were interested in signing me I know that I’ve made the right choice. It’s one of the best changing rooms I’ve been in and I’m loving my football! I’m learning a lot from the manager but also Paul Coutts. He’s had promotions and experience at Championship level. He’s quality and that can only help me.”