Ben Woodburn is one of the hottest young players at Liverpool, but he could have ended up at Barcelona. His presence with Jurgen Klopp's side and the Welsh national team has seen him proclaimed as the successor to Gareth Bale. The attacking midfielder appeared on the scene on Nov. 26, 2016, in a game against Sunderland in the Premier League.
With Liverpool's fans focusing on him, his former teacher, Mark Lindley, has spoken to the media to offer an assessment of the Welshman's first steps in the game. Lindley revealed in an interview with the Mirror that he first met Woodburn when he was just eight years old. Since then, Woodburn has gone on to sign for Liverpool and has become the club's youngest ever goalscorer, breaking Michael Owen's record.
"Even at that age, you could see he was something special, an exceptional talent," Lindley said. "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."
It was in Barcelona, at the age of 12, his career could have taken a very different turn when he was training with Barça and Espanyol.
"At school, he played in central midfield and I remember he came on tour with us to Barcelona, aged 12," Lindley added. "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."
Despite the interest from the Pericos, Woodburn (still just 17) did not end up signing for either Barcelona-based team and in the end agreed to move to Liverpool. It hasn't gone bad since. His progression has seen him leap from the U16s and U18s straight into the Wales team and his presence in the World Cup qualifiers suggests he has a very bright future ahead of him.