Ben Woodburn

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Ben Woodburn
LFC Parade 2019 01 Ben Woodburn.jpg
Woodburn during Liverpool's UEFA Champions League victory parade, June 2019
Personal information
Full name Benjamin Woodburn[1]
Date of birth (1999-10-15) 15 October 1999 (age 19)[2]
Place of birth Nottingham, England[3]
Height 5 ft 9 in (1.74 m)
Playing position Forward
Club information
Current team
Oxford United
(on loan from Liverpool)
Number 10
Youth career
2007–2016 Liverpool
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
2016– Liverpool 6 (0)
2018Sheffield United (loan) 7 (0)
2019–Oxford United (loan) 8 (1)
National team
2014 Wales U15 2 (0)
2015 Wales U16 1 (3)
2014–2016 Wales U17 8 (1)
2016–2018 Wales U19 4 (2)
2017– Wales 10 (2)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 22:00, 17 September 2019 (UTC)
‡ National team caps and goals correct as of 21:51, 20 March 2019 (UTC)

Benjamin Woodburn (born 15 October 1999) is a professional footballer who plays as a forward for Oxford United, on loan from Premier League club Liverpool, and for the Wales national team.

Born in Nottingham, Woodburn joined the football academy of Liverpool when he was seven years old. Nearly a decade later, upon making his senior debut in 2016, he the became the third-youngest player to ever play for the club and in just his second appearance broke Michael Owen's long-standing record to become Liverpool's youngest-ever goalscorer.

He subsequently went on loan to Sheffield United but was restricted to just eight appearances before returning to Liverpool, where he was part of the club's UEFA Champions League winning squad in 2019, although he took no part in the competition himself. The following season, he joined Oxford United on loan.

Despite being born in England, Woodburn elected to represent Wales at international level and became the nation's second-youngest-ever goalscorer behind Gareth Bale when he netted on his senior debut in 2017.

Club career[edit]

Liverpool[edit]

Early career[edit]

Born in Nottingham, Woodburn was raised in Tattenhall, Cheshire and played both cricket and football from a young age.[3][4][5] He joined Liverpool's academy at under-7 level where he steadily progressed through the youth ranks, leading to former academy director Frank McParland identifying him as one of the brightest prospects at the club.[6][4] During his schooling, Liverpool agreed to a request from Woodburn's parents that he should stay at home rather than in Rainhill, which was closer to the academy in Kirkby. In order to facilitate his development, the club arranged for a driver to transport him every day from training back to his home in Tattenhall.[7] When he was 15 years old, Woodburn left his high school, Bishop Heber High School and was fast-tracked from Liverpool's under-16s to the under-18s where his rapid development saw him included in Liverpool's "Futures Group", a programme which afforded the club's most talented young players a weekly opportunity to train with then first-team coach, Pep Lijnders.[8][9]

2016–17 season[edit]

Woodburn playing for Liverpool in 2016

Having impressed first-team manager Jürgen Klopp during these training sessions, Woodburn was handed his non-competitive debut during the 2016–17 pre-season in a 1–0 win over Tranmere Rovers.[10] He came off the bench in Liverpool's next match to score one and assist another for Roberto Firmino in a 5–0 friendly win over Fleetwood Town.[11] Woodburn then, along with Kevin Stewart and fellow academy graduate Trent Alexander-Arnold, signed his first professional contract with Liverpool on 8 November 2016.[12]

He made his senior debut for Liverpool on 26 November, coming on as a 92nd-minute substitute for Georginio Wijnaldum in a 2–0 Premier League victory over Sunderland.[13] Upon doing so, Woodburn became Liverpool's third-youngest debutant of all time at the age of 17 years and 42 days, and the club's second-youngest-ever in the Premier League, behind Jack Robinson.[14] Three days later, he became Liverpool's youngest-ever goalscorer at the age of 17 years and 45 days when he came off the bench to score in an EFL Cup quarter-final win over Leeds United, bettering Michael Owen's record by 98 days.[15][16][17] Following his rapid development at Liverpool, both Sky Sports and The Guardian named Woodburn as one of the top young players to watch in 2017.[18][19]

On 8 January 2017, he became the then-youngest player to represent the club in the FA Cup when he started in a 0–0 draw with Plymouth Argyle.[20][21] His first start in the league followed on 4 April in a 2–1 away triumph over Stoke City which saw him become the third-youngest player to start for Liverpool in the Premier League era behind Owen and Jordon Ibe.[22][23][24] The following week he was nominated for the 2017 European Golden Boy award, but was beaten by French forward Kylian Mbappé.[25][26] On 9 May, Woodburn won Liverpool's Academy Player of the Season award following a campaign which saw him score eight goals in Premier League 2 and break into the first team.[27][28] He was also later nominated for the Premier League 2 Player of the Season award alongside Alexander-Arnold, though the award was ultimately won by Swansea City's Oliver McBurnie.[29][30]

2017–18 season[edit]

The following season, Liverpool's academy coach Steven Gerrard named Woodburn as captain of the under-19 side for the club's UEFA Youth League campaign, a competition which ran parallel to the season's UEFA Champions League.[31] He made just one senior appearance, as a substitute,[32] during the first half of the season but signed a new long-term deal with Liverpool in October and was named BBC Wales Young Sportsman of the Year in December.[33][34][35]

Woodburn continued to represent the youth and reserve sides at the start of the second half of the season. On 21 February 2018, he scored once and assisted another as Liverpool beat Manchester United's U19 side 2–0 to qualify for the quarter finals of the UEFA Youth League.[36] There, the club was eliminated by Manchester City.[37] He made his second and only other senior appearance for the season on 13 May, coming on as a late substitute for Mohamed Salah in a 4–0 league win over Brighton.[32] On 1 July, he and club teammates Alexander-Arnold and Herbie Kane were named on the shortlist for the 2018 Golden Boy award.[38]

2018–19 season: Loan to Sheffield United[edit]

Woodburn (centre) celebrating Liverpool's UEFA Champions League triumph with his teammates.

On 31 July 2018, Woodburn signed on a season-long loan with Championship side Sheffield United.[39] He made his debut for the club four days later, coming off the bench for David McGoldrick in a 2–1 loss to Swansea.[40] His first start followed on 14 August in a League Cup tie against Hull City where, with the scores level after regulation time, the match progressed to a penalty shootout.[40] Woodburn converted his spot kick but Sheffield United were ultimately defeated after his former Liverpool teammate Kevin Stewart scored the winning penalty for Hull.[41] He struggled for game time during the first half of the season, however, compounded by an ankle injury sustained in December and by the midway point of the campaign had only made eight appearances for the club.[40][42]

He was subsequently recalled from his loan by Liverpool where he spent the remainder of the season, making sporadic appearances for the club's U23 side.[43][44] Woodburn was also included in the side's squad for the knockout phases of the Champions League, which Liverpool went on to win after a 2–0 victory over Tottenham in the final, and won a winner's medal despite not featuring in the competition for the season.[45][46]

2019–20 season: Loan to Oxford United[edit]

On 30 July 2019, Woodburn signed with League One side Oxford United on a season-long loan.[47] He made his Oxford debut in a 1–1 draw at Sunderland on the opening day of the 2019–20 season, and assisted Tariqe Fosu for his team's goal.[48] On 24 August, he scored his first goal for the club, opening the scoring in a 3–1 defeat to Bristol Rovers.[49]

International career[edit]

Prior to making his senior international debut, Woodburn was eligible to represent both Wales, through his maternal grandfather, and England.[50] During his early teens he attended a training camp with the England schoolboys' team and was later offered an under-16 call-up by England in August 2014. He rejected the call-up and chose to remain in the Wales setup at the time.[50][51] After his club debut with Liverpool in November 2016, it was reported that England remained hopeful of convincing Woodburn to switch his international allegiance despite previously being rebuffed. The possibility was ended in September the following year when he made his senior international debut for Wales in a competitive fixture.[52][53]

Youth[edit]

Woodburn has played for Wales up to U19 level and was first called up to train at one of the nation's regional development centres at Dragon Park when he was 13.[54] He played for Wales U15s in two games against Poland in March 2014, scored a hat-trick for the U16 side against Northern Ireland the following year and then captained the U17 team against Greece in 2016.[9][50][55] Later that year, he represented the U19 side in their UEFA European Under-19 Championship qualification matches and scored a brace in a 6–2 win over Luxembourg.[56]

Senior[edit]

On 16 March 2017, Woodburn was called up by head coach Chris Coleman to the Wales senior team for the first time, aged 17, for the nation's World Cup qualifier against the Republic of Ireland.[4] He remained an unused substitute, however, as Wales played out a 0–0 draw in Dublin.[57] He made his senior debut on 2 September, coming on as a second-half substitute for Tom Lawrence and scoring a 25-yard strike in a 1–0 win against Austria.[58][59] In doing so, he became Wales' second-youngest-ever goalscorer behind Gareth Bale and kept the nation within reach of qualification. Woodburn featured regularly from the bench towards the back end of the qualification campaign as Wales ultimately fell two points short of a play-off spot.[60][61]

Career statistics[edit]

Club[edit]

As of match played 17 September 2019
Appearances and goals by club, season and competition
Club Season League FA Cup League Cup Europe Total
Division Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
Liverpool 2016–17[13] Premier League 5 0 3 0 1 1 9 1
2017–18[32] Premier League 1 0 0 0 1 0 0[a] 0 2 0
2018–19[40] Premier League 0 0 0 0 0 0 0[a] 0 0 0
Total 6 0 3 0 2 1 0 0 11 1
Sheffield United (loan) 2018–19[40] Championship 7 0 0 0 1 0 8 0
Oxford United (loan) 2019–20[62] League One 8 1 0 0 2 0 10 1
Career total 21 1 3 0 5 1 0 0 29 2
  1. ^ a b Appearances and goals in UEFA Champions League

International[edit]

As of match played 20 March 2019
Appearances and goals by national team and year
National team Year Apps Goals Ref
Wales 2017 6 1 [63]
2018 3 0
2019 1 1
Total 10 2

International goals[edit]

As of match played 20 March 2019.

Wales score listed first, score column indicates score after each Woodburn goal.[63]

International goals by date, venue, cap, opponent, score, result and competition
No. Date Venue Cap Opponent Score Result Competition
1 2 September 2017 Cardiff City Stadium, Cardiff, Wales 1  Austria 1–0 1–0 2018 FIFA World Cup qualification
2 20 March 2019 Racecourse Ground, Wrexham, Wales 10  Trinidad and Tobago 1–0 1–0 Friendly

Honours[edit]

Individual

References[edit]

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External links[edit]