Everton star Anthony Gordon opens up on Liverpool exit and how it built his character

Anthony Gordon knows what rejection feels like. These days, the 21-year-old wears Everton’s No.10 in the Premier League but his run hasn’t always been smooth.

Gordon, from Huyton in Merseyside, played for a number of local teams growing up, with Whiston Juniors his main.

Playing a few years ahead of his age group, he quickly started to make a name for himself and caught the attention of Liverpool but was released.

Soon after, Everton stepped in and brought him to the blue half of Merseyside.

“I was scouted at Liverpool by my Sunday League team,” Gordon told SPORTbible.

“I just bounce back from playing for different teams, playing as much as I really could. And then they released me.

“A scout from Everton came over and watched me play. I went there and then the rest is history.

“I think I was always a bit above my age level – even through the academies I was always playing one or two years. I think that has helped me to play now against bigger players and all that.

Gordon calls it a “quick turnaround” from his release to being scouted by Everton again and signing at the age of 11.

Although this setback hit him hard, he was able to get up and walk away. Looking back now, he sees the whole experience as something that helped build his character.

Image: Alamy
Image: Alamy

“It was hard to deal with at the time, but I think it’s character building. At the time, I was really disappointed, but it helped me a lot as a kid to get into Everton group and that still helps me to this day I think.

“I was probably a little emotional and it shook my confidence. My family was really important to me growing up, but I was pretty strong in spirit. I just kept playing and showing my ability. Then Everton arrived.

“Setbacks are difficult for any young person because you don’t really know how to deal with them. Those things that go against you when you’re young shape your character for when you’re an adult.

Gordon had been rolling around with a ball since he was three years old when he couldn’t even stand properly.

This infatuation later led to him training in his backyard, with his father Keith setting up drills for him.

“The front garden wasn’t too big, but we used to have a Samba-type goal, and he put tires in the top corners.

“I would just sit there and write them down all day and practice little things. I used to play all day and loved it.

“It allowed me to keep playing football. It kept me from doing other things, probably. And when people were going out with friends and stuff, I was just there, shoving the ball into the tire.

Ultimately, the practice of those early days paid off for Gordon, who now has 74 appearances to his name for Everton.

His debut came back in 2017 at the age of 16 in a Europa League game against Apollon Limassol.

Image: Alamy
Image: Alamy

His first Premier League start was handed to him by Carlo Ancelotti against Liverpool in the Merseyside derby in June 2020 and a few months later he signed a new five-year contract.

It was last season that he firmly established himself as a regular, making 40 appearances in all competitions for the Toffees.

There was strong interest from Chelsea this summer, but Gordon felt the love of Frank Lampard and remained committed to the cause at Everton, where he rose through the ranks.

“I don’t know why, but I always had the underlying confidence that I would play for Everton and play in the Premier League.

“I couldn’t tell you why because I’ve had a lot of setbacks and ups and downs. I always knew one way or another.

The reality is that Gordon is something of a rarity as few of them make it to the next level. In January 2022, the Premier League revealed that 97% of players who go through elite academies never play a single minute of Premier League football.

Gordon has seen it himself and thinks there is work to be done for those who are not successful.

“I was having this discussion with someone the other day. A lot of players I played with in the youth system no longer play football.

“There probably wasn’t enough opportunity for them to take different paths in football or be offered a second opportunity elsewhere. I think that’s definitely something we can work on as a community. of football.

Picture: McDonald's
Picture: McDonald’s

Gordon has always enjoyed participating in boxing despite going the football route. At Liverpool it’s one or the other, he says.

“Pretty good” is how he rates his abilities and you can see his sharpness when he was on the pads with “The Beast” Adebayo Akinfenwa.

Devin Haney and Vasyl Lomachenko are two of his favorite fighters to watch.

“I like smaller fighters where there is more skill. Many people like heavyweights or artists.

“I never chased it. I say I’m good, I’m not that good! I like the mastermind behind it because it takes so much skill and technique. It’s like a game chess, so I really like that.

Gordon, with his dogged determination, has a boxer type mentality. His speed on the pitch is as scary as Canelo Alvarez on the mitts, but the England Under-21 star has had to work on his physique to cope with the demands of the men’s game.

“I was really lucky because as a child I was quite small and thin. And then I had a growth spurt around 18 or 19 and all of a sudden I had a lot of rhythm.

On FIFA 23, Gordon is one of the most improved players this year. His total increased massively from 67 to 75.

But still, he feels that 80 beats need to be increased.

“Shocking! 80 steps?” he fumed.

“I’ve seen loads of players, which I won’t name, like 85 or 86 – and I think if we had a run I know I’d win big!

“Not our team, just other players around the world. It needs to be improved.

Anthony Gordon was attending the McDonald’s Ultimate Gaming event to celebrate the launch of the new McCrispy. The game-changing chicken burger is now permanently available at your nearest McDonald’s #McCrispy

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