Liverpool youngster Jordon Ibe revealed in an interview with the Daily Mail this weekend that Raheem Sterling has been one of the biggest influences on his career so far - and watching the 19-year-old winger in action it’s easy to tell that’s no exaggeration.
But the skilful England Under-20 international, who made his fifth successive Premier League appearance against Southampton this afternoon, is proving he is much more than your average tricky winger - all flair but lacking in discipline or footballing intelligence.
For 74 minutes at St Mary’s today, still learning his trade in an unfamiliar right wing-back position, Ibe was assured and tactically disciplined throughout. Always willing to bomb forwards but mindful of his defensive responsibilities, Liverpool appear to have a real gem on their hands.
This sentiment was echoed by a host of former professionals on social media during the 90 minutes, including Match of the Day host Gary Lineker, who tweeted: “Jordan Ibe is a perfect example of how if our young players are good enough they will play first team football. And this boy is good.”
That Lineker’s tweet has attracted over 16,000 rewets and 36,000 favourites - and counting - suggests Ibe is making a big impression not only on Liverpool fans, but on football’s wider community too.
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Ibe fell in love with Liverpool in 2005
It seems fitting that Ibe fell in love with Liverpool on that famous night in May 2005 when the Reds, against all the odds, came from 3-0 down to beat AC Milan and win the European Cup for the fifth time.
On arguably the most enthralling evening in Liverpool’s illustrious history, they stole the heart of a player with the potential and ability to thrill the Anfield crowd for many years to come.
From Chelsea fan to Liverpool star
Prior to that night in Istanbul, Ibe admits, he was a Chelsea supporter.
“Dad was a Liverpool fan,” Ibe told the Daily Mail. “Growing up I supported Chelsea a little bit but I’ve been a Liverpool fan since I started watching the games.
“I watched the Champions League final in the evening. I wasn’t [normally] allowed to stay up but I watched it.”
Based on his early eye-catching performances for Liverpool, don’t be surprised if this former Chelsea fan is the player who inspires the Reds to even more memorable nights - and perhaps even more silverware - over the coming years.
Could Jordon Ibe equal - or even surpass - his teammate Raheem Sterling? Have your say in the comments below!