Liverpool’s Hidden Gem

Full Name: Nathaniel Phillips

Nickname: Nat

Birthdate: March 21, 1997

Place of Birth: England

Position(s): Defender/Centre-back

Football Club (Current): Liverpool FC

Award(s): Captain’s Armband (U23 Level)                                                        

Football Career and Liverpool FC:

In 2016, Nathaniel Phillips signed with Premier League Liverpool FC, following the end of his Bolton Wanderers contract. Before he signed with Liverpool, Phillips was about to jet off to the United States of America on a football scholarship at the University of North Carolina. Fortunately for him, he joined the professional football club just in time for the start of the 2016/17 season. He made 20 appearances in the Premier League 2, notching up two goals. He was given a place on the team’s tour in the US after he made a great impression on Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp during a pre-season tournament with the team, winning against football clubs Chester, Tranmere, Bury, and Blackburn in a scrimmage. Liverpool’s Under-23 manager Neil Critchley even awarded him the captain armband at the U23 level. From then, he trained on a regular basis with the first-team.

It has only been two years since Nathaniel Phillips signed a pro contract with Liverpool. He was actually recommended by former Newcastle and Irish defender and centre-back Andy O’Brien, who is currently Liverpool’s north of England scout. He endorsed Nat’s remarkable performance in competitions, his will to put his body on the line defensively, and passed on positive reports about the player’s aerial presence, character, work ethic, and mentality. Liverpool also took note of these traits, describing him as ‘a very brave defender who will put his body on the line for the team.’

Although Phillips made a big impression on the Reds, he took a while to find a regular spot on the team. A lot of factors also contributed to his difficulty in finding a regular spot with the team such as his new surroundings and his adjustments to playing a higher standard of football. Through the guidance and support of coaches Neil Critchley and Mike Garrity, and Liverpool Academy Director Alex Inglethorpe, he was able to adapt to these changes.  Last 2017/18 season was difficult too for the young centre-back. He missed a large part of the season due to a stress fracture in his back that cost him a lot of training and playing time. He came back to action for Liverpool’s U23 in March, but found himself quickly promoted to Melwood after the injuries of Joel Matip and Joe Gomez.

After missing basically most of the 2017/18 season, Nathaniel Phillips is back and eager to make up for lost time this season. He has been working hard and gearing up in full speed during strenuous trainings together with Virgil van Dijk, who also plays centre-back for Liverpool. And with former Reds’ centre-back Ragnar Klavan’s transfer to Serie A Cagliari, Jurgen Klopp just assigned the task of providing back-up for the Reds to the young defender.

However, even with his extraordinary skills and personality, the name Nathaniel Phillips is still unfamiliar to many, even among Liverpool’s supporters. But as measured by his improvement throughout the course of the pre-season tournaments, young Nathaniel Phillips could just find himself unexpectedly thrust into the limelight this season.

By @EliaasMJ

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