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Football

Explained: Fan inspiration at AXA Training Centre

Explained: Fan inspiration at AXA Training Centre

Courtesy of liverpoolfc.com

The passion and loyalty of Liverpool FC’s fanbase is displayed throughout the new AXA Training Centre.

Located in the atrium of the visitor and U23s’ section of the facility stands the Fan Wall – 100sqm of high-quality photographs of supporters and their flags and banners from matches at Anfield.

The wall also features a club crest, 3.5 metres in height, to reinforce the fact that those Reds in the stands and all around the world are the very fabric of the club. 

“You walk through the doors and it is obvious that you’re in a Liverpool environment,” explains David Keirle, chairman of architects KSS. “The area that we’ve created for visitors not only deals with some of the history of the club, but there’s one wall that goes right the way through the entrance which has the Kop, the fans. 

“The fans are the very heart of the training facility. The players are there to ensure that these guys have a great time and that the glory of this club continues. 

“We wanted this space to be something that the fans were part of – literally built into the fabric of the building. This space is quite a dramatic space as you enter it.”

Those visiting the atrium can also sit on the staircase to obtain an Anfield-like experience. 

Keirle continues: “There’s a very interesting staircase which has kind of like theatre seating that looks back at a big screen so you can present the club. 

“On one side you’ve got the manifestation of the Kop literally carved into the concentrate, and on the other side you’ve got everything there is to say about the heroes of the club that have gone before. 

“Because it’s got these high-level windows, the manifestation – in order to give you some solar shading – is this mass of red. As it descends down the window it becomes clear that it’s the words of You’ll Never Walk Alone. That anthem of the club is embedded within the very heart of the building.

“From a public point of view, as you walk in there as a visitor, member of the media or visiting team coming in, you’re going to know that this is Liverpool and this is what Liverpool stands for.”

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Football

‘It was an honour to make my first start for this club’

‘It was an honour to make my first start for this club’

Making your first start for a new club is always a special moment – and for Liverpool FC Women’s Meikayla Moore, it was a significant step forward.

A close-season addition to Vicky Jepson’s squad, Moore began last Wednesday’s Continental Cup defeat by Manchester City in midfield and was delighted to do so.

Jepson also introduced youngsters Missy Bo Kearns and Lucy Parry for the second half against the recent FA Cup winners, while there was a senior debut for another talented teenager in Mia Ross.

Moore told Liverpoolfc.com: “It’s always an honour to make your first start and it was a tough game. You have to give credit to City for their performance but I thought there was certainly parts of our game that we can build on.

“It’s important that we rotate the squad and it was brilliant to see Paz [Parry] come on and get her opportunity. She’s such a young player but she did a brilliant job. She did well [and it was the] same with Missy Bo and Mia.”

The Reds return to action this afternoon when they take on Sheffield United in the FA Women’s Championship at Prenton Park with kick-off set for 2pm GMT.

After a 2-1 defeat at Leicester City and a 2-2 draw with Lewes in their last two league outings, Jepson’s team are determined to get back to winning ways. 

“We know that nothing else than three points is our option so we will plan as best we can,” Moore continued.

“I’m loving it here at Liverpool. We have a great bunch of girls and great staff. This squad has so much potential and we know where we want to be. We also know that we also have to hold ourselves more accountable and put in performances that are worthy of winning this league.

“We know that we can do that so it’s about turning that around now, starting on Sunday.”

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Football

‘We want to keep up our level – matchday is the highlight of the week’

‘We want to keep up our level – matchday is the highlight of the week’

Courtesy of liverpoolfc.com

Marc Bridge-Wilkinson highlighted the hard work and desire of his Liverpool U18s team after they produced an outstanding display to beat Everton 4-0 last weekend.

All the goals in the mini-derby at Finch Farm came in the opening 45 minutes and the manager was absolutely delighted with the application of his players.

Since a 3-1 loss at home to Manchester City, Bridge-Wilkinson’s charges have responded with three straight wins, netting 10 goals in the process.

They are back in action on Saturday afternoon when they host Newcastle United at the Academy in a game you can watch live on LFCTV and LFCTV GO, with kick-off set for 1pm GMT.

Ahead of the fixture, we spoke to Bridge-Wilkinson about that impressive derby victory, the return to fitness of Tyler Morton, and how summer signings Melkamu Frauendorf and Mateusz Musialowski are settling in…

On the excellent response from his team since their 3-1 defeat by Manchester City…

It has been a fantastic response. We had the disappointment of losing a game and I don’t know whether the boys viewed that as a bit of fire really in their belly, but they have responded really well since then and performances have been really good.

On last Saturday’s 4-0 win at Everton in the mini-derby…

It was a nice morning’s football, let’s put it that way! The boys performed really well, we scored four goals and kept a clean sheet. The boys were really pleased with themselves and they should be as well.

On Frauendorf netting his first goal for the club against the Blues…

It was a brilliant moment for him. He has been working his socks off. He works so hard for the team, works so hard in training and we know what he is capable of. We see Melkamu scoring goals every day in training and it’s just taken him a little bit longer to get one in the league. We were all really pleased for him and you saw that by the lads’ reaction after he had scored. They were buzzing for him and it was a great moment. Melkamu gives us a lot of options and he is a talented boy. He can also play in a number of positions in the attack and even further back as well if we need. You get what you see. He works his socks off for the team and is a real team player. He never leaves a moment of energy on that pitch and just gives his all in every moment and every minute of every game. He has adapted to what we have asked him to do and we are really pleased with him.

On the return of influential playmaker Morton after injury against Everton…

Tyler is a really good footballer. He is a big player for us and above all else we are just really pleased to see him back fit and well and playing football again, which is the main thing. He helps us, he adds to the group and the team, there’s no doubts about that.

On young players from the U16s stepping up in recent weeks…

I’m quite fortunate because I worked with these U16 boys last year when they were U15s, so I know them all quite well. I know what they are capable of and I have no qualms in giving them an opportunity if we can. Ethan Ennis, Terence Miles and Isaac Mabaya have all stepped up in recent weeks and done really well, so it’s been really pleasing to see that.

On Saturday’s home meeting with Newcastle…

We just want to keep up our level of performance. We are at home and the matchday is the highlight of the week. The boys are working really hard every day in training and we are looking forward to it.

On taking extra care with the fitness of summer signing Musialowski…

Mateusz has been unfortunate and each of our new signings have got their own story to tell. What people won’t realise is Matty is a little bit different to most, in terms of he has played little football in the last year or so due to injury and then we had the COVID-19 pandemic stopping football. We’ve got to be very careful with him that we don’t expose him to too much football too soon. It’s about building his fitness up and making sure that we give him the best opportunity  – and that might not be right now. Obviously we want him to play games and be involved in everything, but we’ve got to make sure we are looking after him and his welfare first and foremost. His training is building up and his game time will increase as the weeks go by, and we can’t wait to get him out onto the pitch as he is a very talented boy.

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News

‘It’s a nice story’ – Klopp on Rhys Williams’ Champions League debut

‘It’s a nice story’ – Klopp on Rhys Williams’ Champions League debut

Courtesy of liverpoolfc.com

Jürgen Klopp described how he saw the joy in the eyes of Rhys Williams after the 19-year-old clocked up his first Champions League minutes on Wednesday – and the boss challenged the young centre-backs within the squad to grasp the ‘big opportunity’ the injury to Virgil van Dijk has afforded them.

Williams, who spent last season on loan at non-league Kidderminster Harriers, was introduced as a late substitute during the Reds’ 1-0 victory over AFC Ajax in Amsterdam in midweek, adding to his previous two first-team appearances chalked up so far this season.

“Yes, that’s a nice story,” Klopp said during his pre-Sheffield United press conference. “I saw it in his eyes after the game that he was pretty impressed by that occasion and that’s nice.

“He is a big talent – not only big physically, but he is a real talent and it’s nice to have him around.

“That he played last year non-league, that makes it special.”

Williams is one of three young centre-backs who have been involved in the first-team squad so far this term, with Nat Phillips and Billy Koumetio also training at Melwood.

“With the situation, Nat Phillips is here as well and Billy the kid [Koumetio] is here, so these boys are really around,” Klopp continued.

“Nat Phillips, we thought would be a transfer but then in the last second it didn’t happen. Nat, we all know, we brought him back here last year from Stuttgart for one game against Everton in which he did really well.

“These are solutions for us and helps us a lot. The boys are great and it’s a big opportunity for them. As always in life, if something bad happens, when the dust is kind of settled you can see the opportunities again. It’s all about doing the right things in the right moment.

“For Rhys, it was now the first Champions League minutes, which is nice.”

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Football

Reds announce AXA as Training Centre naming rights partner

Reds announce AXA as Training Centre naming rights partner

Courtesy of liverpoolfc.com

Liverpool FC and AXA have expanded their partnership to include the naming rights of the Reds’ new Training Centre in Kirkby.

The state-of-the-art facility will be officially known as the AXA Training Centre and marks the club’s first training complex naming partner.

The renewed agreement will see AXA expand its original training kit relationship to one focused more holistically on training as a whole and become the club’s official training partner, incorporating all LFC training apparel.

Jürgen Klopp’s side are preparing to move into the club’s new Training Centre in mid-to-late November, with the finishing touches being made in preparation.

The Reds will move to the facility after bidding a fond farewell to Melwood, which has been the club’s training ground for 70 years, beginning a new chapter in the club’s illustrious history that will see the first team and youth football operations come together at a combined training facility for the first time.

The new 9,200sqm AXA Training Centre boasts three full-size pitches, goalkeeping and warm-up areas, and indoor facilities including two gyms, a full-size sports hall, pool, hydrotherapy complex and specialist sports rehabilitation suites.

“The expansion of AXA’s partnership to include the naming rights of the club’s new Training Centre makes perfect sense,” said Billy Hogan, Liverpool FC’s chief executive officer.

“We have already seen their emphasis on driving health, wellbeing, confidence and self-belief, and so deepening their relationship in the field of training makes this partnership a great fit.

“We’re pleased to have AXA on board as we start this new chapter at the club and are proud to expand our relationship with a brand that shares our common values and aspirations both on and off the pitch.”

Thomas Buberl, chief executive officer of AXA, said: “We are extremely excited and proud by this landmark step in our partnership with Liverpool Football Club.

“The AXA Training Centre is a world-class facility that will forge a pathway of improvement, progress and success throughout the club’s first team and development squads. This culture and belief truly complement our values of helping people to go further through our tagline: ‘Know You Can’.”

A planning application for the addition of sponsor signage to the building has already been submitted to Knowsley Council and, subject to receipt of consent, will be installed later this year.

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Football

LFC signs up to FA’s new Football Leadership Diversity Code

LFC signs up to FA’s new Football Leadership Diversity Code

Courtesy of liverpoolfc.com

Liverpool Football Club is backing the Football Association’s new Football Leadership Diversity Code as part of its ongoing commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion.

The club is a founding signatory of the new code, which has been created in collaboration with club executives, players, coaches, HR directors, media and leaders across the game to ensure English football better represents our modern and diverse society.  

The Football Leadership Diversity Code, which is viewed as a starting point towards greater diversity, encourages clubs to have their own equality, diversity and inclusion strategy with aspirational ambitions and goals that reflect their club’s position and can report on annually.  

The code, which is voluntary, focuses on increasing equality of opportunity with recruitment targets – rather than quotas – for coaching and leadership positions, developing talent as well as principles for overall recruitment, which will be based on merit from diverse talent pipelines. 

The targets, which are designed to ensure football clubs reflect both the professional playing base and the local population’s diversity, do have significant flexibility for clubs to incorporate into their individual journeys, particularly in the current climate, which has already had a significant impact on the industry. 

As part of the consultation process for the code, leading figures in football, including players such as Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson, were engaged by Paul Elliott – former Charlton Athletic, Chelsea and Celtic defender, and chair of the Inclusion Advisory Board at the FA – with the aim of talking to people with direct experiences or who have witnessed first-hand the impact discrimination has had on a teammate. 

Although clubs have the autonomy to devise their own targets, some of the FA’s targets include: 15 per cent of new senior leadership and team operations hires will be Black, Asian or of Mixed-Heritage and 30 per cent will be female, as well as 25 per cent of new coaching staff hires (men’s clubs) and 15 per cent (women’s clubs) will be Black, Asian or of Mixed-Heritage.  

Lynne Stockton Howard, senior vice president, HR, at Liverpool FC, said: “We are proud to be a founding signatory of the FA’s Football Leadership Diversity Code, as it reflects our ambitions and commitment as a club to make both LFC and the wider football community as inclusive as possible.  

“This month we launched our equality, diversity and inclusion strategy, Red Together, which provides a recognisable platform to bring our important work, messaging, achievements and ambitions in this area to the forefront. Alongside this, we maintained our Premier League Advanced Level Equality Standard in recognition of the club’s ongoing commitment to driving change.” 

To read more about LFC’s equality, diversity and inclusion work, please visit www.liverpoolfc.com/redtogether

To find out more information about the FA’s Football Leadership Diversity Code, please visit www.TheFA.com/FLDC.

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Football

Red Neighbours supports families in need with half-term food parcels

Red Neighbours supports families in need with half-term food parcels

Courtesy of liverpoolfc.com

Liverpool FC’s community programme, Red Neighbours, will deliver food hampers to families in need during the upcoming half-term break as part of its ‘Breakfast Clubs to You’ initiative.

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Red Neighbours would have welcomed families to Anfield over the half-term break for breakfast clubs, involving a cooked meal, activities and live music. However, as a result of current restrictions, ‘Breakfast Clubs to You’ was launched to ensure that local families don’t miss out. 

The Red Neighbours team will deliver 160 food parcels in the Anfield and Kirkby communities next week, each feeding a family of four for up to five days. Each parcel includes items such as bread, milk, eggs, cereal, fruit and much more. 

As part of a seasonal twist, the Red Neighbours team has also included a Halloween pumpkin soup recipe – assembled by the chefs at Anfield – with the ingredients provided to help families cook together over the half-term holidays.

Forbes Duff, Red Neighbours senior manager, said: “We are delighted to continue the delivery of food parcels to those most in need in our local communities throughout the half-term holidays. 

“We would have loved to welcome families into Anfield as usual for our half-term breakfast clubs but that’s unfortunately not an option at the moment due to the current government restrictions. Although we have had to adapt amidst the current pandemic, we are proud that we will help to feed over 600 people next week with our ‘Breakfast Clubs to You’ initiative.” 

Aside from their support over half-term, the Red Neighbours team also continue to produce and deliver 1,000 meals per week to those in need in the local community as part of the club’s COVID-19 recovery response work. Since March, the team have delivered over 27,000 free meals to those living in food poverty throughout the local community.

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Football

Sadio Mane named Liverpool’s September Player of the Month

Sadio Mane named Liverpool’s September Player of the Month

Courtesy of liverpoolfc.com

Sadio Mane has been named Liverpool’s Standard Chartered Player of the Month for September after a poll of supporters.

The Reds No.10 netted three goals in the month as Jürgen Klopp’s side won each of their three Premier League fixtures to start their title defence.

Mane’s double earned the points at Stamford Bridge as he scored twice in the second half past Chelsea, before the Senegal international began a comeback against Arsenal at Anfield during an outstanding individual display.

The forward’s form saw him clinch the highest number of votes in our Player of the Month poll here on Liverpoolfc.com, with Mohamed Salah in second and Fabinho third.

“Thank you, I’m really happy to be named Player of the Month. I think it has been a fantastic couple of weeks for us – me and my teammates. It’s really important for the team.

“We finished by losing against Aston Villa, which was a little bit of a disappointing result but it’s part of football. We just have to deal with it and prepare for the game tomorrow and try to do our best and win the game.”

He added: “I just want to say thank you to all the fans and to just say the hard work will begin now and as a team we do everything possible to make them proud – by starting tomorrow.”

Mane bagged two very different, but equally admirable, goals against Chelsea to register an impressive early-season win for Liverpool.

His first was a deft, accurate header angled inside the post after Roberto Firmino and Salah combined on the flank to guide a cross into the area.

The second came from Mane’s determination and work-rate as he chased down Kepa Arrizabalaga, blocked the goalkeeper’s clearance and swept in a finish.

Asked if that game was his standout moment of the month, Mane replied: “I think it started from the Chelsea game because it was really, really important and it was a difficult game. From the beginning we were spot on and we pushed as a team.

“At the end we finished by winning 2-0, which was well deserved for us and we were really happy to get these three points and [for me] especially to score two goals.”

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Football

Explained: How LFC’s Nike kits are made from recycled plastic bottles

Explained: How LFC’s Nike kits are made from recycled plastic bottles

Courtesy of liverpoolfc.com

Every single one of Liverpool FC’s Nike kits this season has been made from up to 18 recycled plastic bottles.

As part of Nike’s Move to Zero initiative, the Premier League champions’ 2020-21 strips are produced from 100 per cent recycled polyester. It’s the same for the fan versions of the jerseys, too. 

Since 2010, the American apparel company has used seven-and-a-half billion plastic bottles to make the polyester for football shirts. 

“Our materials supplier do the transformation but they basically take the bottles and chop it down into flakes and then they can melt it and then spin into the yarn,” explains Seana Hannah, Nike’s vice president of sustainable innovation.

“Then you can spin it in different thicknesses and weights depending on the performance that you want. All of those bottles would’ve gone to landfill.

“So we’re super proud of that because Nike is a big user of recycled polyester in our industry and we are just going to continue charging forward using as much recycled material as we possibly can.”

Even though made from actual waste, the Reds’ home, away and third kits contain the latest technology, providing cooling and breathability. 

Hannah details: “The Liverpool kits used the recycled polyester but also the precision-knitting process where we can knit in reinforcements or knit in venting where there are heat areas.

“Those two things together – the material and the process – we actually have better performance. It’s more breathable and has more stretch than the previous kits.

“We want to give them [the players] – and they expect – the highest performance. And at the same time, make whatever they’re using as sustainably as possible.”

The production and delivery of the apparel also has combating climate change in mind, with Nike’s logistics operation centre in Belgium powered by 100 per cent renewable energy. 

Any cardboard involved in the distribution process has been recycled up to seven times. Meanwhile, fans ordering just a shirt from Nike will have it arrive in a paper envelope instead, taking less space in the shipping container and, therefore, reducing the carbon footprint.

“We’re super excited about Liverpool and Nike – two greats coming together to really champion sustainability,” Seana says. 

“We’re going to look at it from all different angles and we’re excited about the partnership.

“Football’s the world’s biggest sport and when you can have the players and the fans and partners, like Nike, when we can all bring it together, we can be real champions for climate action.”

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Football

‘Thiago and Liverpool is a perfect match’

‘Thiago and Liverpool is a perfect match’

Courtesy of liverpoolfc.com

Georginio Wijnaldum considers Liverpool and Thiago Alcantara a ‘perfect match’.

Thiago signed a long-term deal to join the Premier League champions from Bayern Munich last month, further bolstering Jürgen Klopp’s midfield options with his wealth of experience in the Bundesliga and previously at Barcelona.

Wijnaldum has long observed and admired the Spain international from afar, then played directly against him in the Champions League in 2018-19, and is now delighted to call him a teammate.

And as he outlined the qualities Thiago can bring to the Reds, Wijnaldum explained his belief that the new No.6 is a precise stylistic fit for the club.

“Everything impressed me,” he told Liverpoolfc.com. “I saw him play for years now, I played against him when we played against Bayern, and the awareness he has on the pitch, the confidence he has on the ball and the way he manages to let the team play is unbelievable.

“He’s such a quality player that is going to make this team even better than we were before. So, I’m really happy, everyone is really happy, to have him here. He’s also happy to be here.

“I think it’s a perfect match: Liverpool and Thiago.”

Thiago was the second of four new arrivals to Klopp’s squad for the 2020-21 campaign, with Greece left-back Kostas Tsimikas, Portugal forward Diogo Jota and 17-year-old goalkeeper Marcelo Pitaluga also recruited.

Wijnaldum expects the added ability and personality provided by the new signings to be particularly beneficial over the course of a demanding season.

“Brilliant, class – class players,” said the Dutchman. “They already showed at their previous clubs that they are really good players and we are really happy to have them here, because they make the squad better.

“With them, we have a bigger squad; I think you need that during a season.”

“But the most important thing is that they are quality players and that makes the team even better than we were before. I’m really happy with the signings. They are also good personalities, good people – they totally fit into the team we have.”