It was a late summer evening, the new league season is on the horizon and the league cup first round has begun. Things are tight in extra time of a match that Colchester United are winning. Deep into extra-time, opposition manager Gary Waddock decides a change is needed; on to the field steps a 15-year-old man by the name of Jordon Ibe. A minute later, Wycombe are back in the game; twenty minutes later, they have emerged victorious from a penalty shootout. Just a coincidence? Perhaps not.
The name ‘Ibe’ has been on the lips of Liverpool fans for a while now; ever since he made his debut in such a fearless manner against Queens Park Rangers in the final game of the 2012-13 season, supporters have been calling for him to get more first team opportunities.
In that game, Ibe was thoroughly impressive, albeit not perfect. Perfection is not expected from a 17-year-old making his Premier League debut for one of Europe’s most decorated clubs, however, and the teenager dazzled with step-overs and tricks, intertwined with pace, hard-work and a surprisingly mature ability to pick a pass.
The quick, direct nature of his play is what most likely got Reds fans licking their lips, and the former Wycombe Wanderers man capped his debut with an assist for the magical Philippe Coutinho, blitzing past two QPR defenders in a storm of speed and agility before wisely laying the ball off and into the path of his Brazilian team-mate. That game was, coincidentally, club legend Jamie Carragher’s last for Liverpool and, perhaps, with the closing of one great Red’s career, another began.
A plethora of comparisons have been drawn between Ibe and teammate Raheem Sterling – as should be expected, both are young, dynamic and downright fearless – and everyone involved at the club can only hope that Ibe follows in Sterling’s footsteps after the latter established himself as an integral part of the first team with a string of stellar performances at the back end of last season. The similarities appear to be endless: both players are wingers that base their game on pace and dynamism, both were signed by Liverpool as teenagers, both were handed their debut at the tender age of 17, they even share the same birthday.
A whole season has passed since the day he made his debut and Ibe has only acquired one more league appearance in a short cameo at the close of Liverpool’s 5-1 trouncing of Arsenal. His Liverpool career might not have kick-started in the way many expected after that explosive debut but fans need not fear, Ibe is still just 18 years old and, with a sparkling preseason and a loan spell in the Championship under his belt, expect to hear plenty more of the boy with a touch of magic in his boots…albeit, perhaps, after another loan spell away if recent reports are to be believed.