Trent Alexander-Arnold’s success spurring on old Liverpool team mate Callum Lang at Motherwell
IT is fair to say the role reversal which Trent Alexander-Arnold and Callum Lang underwent during their time as kids together in the Liverpool youth set-up has worked out rather better for the former to date.
Alexander-Arnold, who switched from up front to the back, has gone on to establish himself in the Anfield first team as well as the England side and has helped Jurgen Klopp’s side lift the Champions League and Premier League trophies.
Lang, who went in the opposite direction, moved on to Wigan, has since spent loan spells in the English lower leagues with Morecambe, Oldham Athletic and Shrewsbury Town and joined Motherwell for the season last week.
“I was only a kid when I was at Liverpool, but in the same age group there was Trent coming through,” said Lang. “I have grown up with him and played footie with him. He was playing as a striker at the time I was there and I was a defender, which was weird, so we have kind of swapped positions.
“Trent has had a good opportunity and he’s taken it with both hands. That’s good to see. He plays for a manager who trusts him and it’s worked well for him. He has gone on to do so much in his career and he deserves it all, with England too.”
Their careers may have taken different paths since their time together, but Alexander-Arnold has still taken an interest in how his contemporary is faring and offered his occasional support.
“We follow each other on Instagram and he’ll give me a little message when I’ve done well,” said Lang. “I came up against him last year (for Shrewsbury v Liverpool in the FA Cup) and he sorted me out with his shirt after the game. He’s a good lad, you wouldn’t think he’s gone on to do all he has because he’s so down to earth.”
Alexander-Arnold hasn’t been in touch about Lang’s switch to Fir Park so far. “He’s still probably celebrating the league, so I’ll let him off,” he said.
The 21-year-old, though, hasn’t given up hope of playing at the same level as his contemporary at some point in the future and he admits the heights the right back has scaled in football have inspired him.
“To watch him do all that at such a young age, the same age as me, gives you some motivation as well,” he said. “You want to get to the Premier League yourself. That’s every young lad’s aim in England.
“To come to the Scottish Premiership, it’s a much bigger stage than League One and Two was for me. It’s a great opportunity for me and I want to do the same – take this chance and push on.”
The success that Lang enjoyed in League Two down south two seasons ago – he scored 10 goals in 30 appearances with Morecambe and was linked with a move to his boyhood heroes Everton – before picking up an injury that curtailed his involvement at Shrewsbury last term suggested he could achieve his goal one day.
“I was sitting at home and Everton interest came up on Sky Sports News,” he said. “It was a bit unreal really. The whole family were going a bit crazy at the time, ringing me every day and asking if I was going. I’m an Everton fan and all my family are Everton fans.
“It did cause a bit of a problem with Wigan at the time. I didn’t want to rush into signing a contract when all that was going on. I thought there was a chance of it happening, but nothing came of it and I signed back on at Wigan.
“I think when I took a while to sign a contract because of that reason — which was understandable because it’s the club I’ve supported all my life — it didn’t help me at Wigan.
“It’s motivation again. Seeing my name next to Everton FC was quite unreal. I’ll keep pushing on and maybe one day it can happen. At the moment I’m just focusing on here at Motherwell, trying to impress the gaffer and the fans.”
Lang has no qualms about his move to Scotland. Quite the opposite. He received glowing reports about the Premiership from current and former team mates when Motherwell made contact. The chance to play in the Europa League is particularly appealing to him.
“I want to prove myself in this league,” he said as he looked ahead to the league match against Ross County in Dingwall tomorrow. “I know a few lads in the Premiership and I’m looking forward to it because there will be a bigger audience than League One where I was last season.
“I spoke to Cedric (former Motherwell and current Wigan defender Kipre) who only had good things to say about the club and how much he enjoyed everything – the gaffer, the training. It sounded like it would suit me down to a T.
“I also spoke to lads who play in the league so I wanted to come straight away. I played with George Edmundson(Rangers centre half) and Harry Robinson (Motherwell midfielder) at Oldham Athletic and Aaron McGowan who has moved to Kilmarnock from Hamilton.
“George is a good mate of mine and he’s done well at Rangers and it would be nice to play against him. We had a good season together at Oldham and it will be funny playing against him.
“Jason Cummings also told me about the Old Firm and I enjoyed my time with him at Shrewsbury because I was out injured for most of the season and lads like him cheer you up.
“The Europa League was a massive attraction when I spoke to the manager on the phone. The team did really well and to play in European football is a really good opportunity. It’s crazy. I just want to help the boys push on again as a team. We are all looking forward to Europe. Once that starts hopefully we can put in some good performances.”