Jordon: I'll never forget heartbreak
Jordon Ibe thought his football career was over before it had even begun.
He was 12-years-old and after trials at various clubs he was taken on by Charlton Athletic in his native London. For any youngster, playing for a professional club is a dream. But within a year, the young Ibe's dream was in shreds. His contract was not renewed; he was let go.
Faced with similar situations, many of the winger's friends gave up playing altogether. Like them, Ibe thought it was over.
Five years later, in May of this year, the 17-year-old made his full Liverpool debut in the Premier League - and he's hoping to double his tally of appearances when the Reds host League One side Notts County in the League Cup tonight.
If he does, the day Charlton told him they didn't want him anymore won't be far from his mind.
"I felt heartbroken," Ibe told Liverpoolfc.com. "I was a youngster, I'd been tried out at a lot of teams and got into Charlton, but after only being there a year I thought football was over for me.
"I went over to Wycombe at the end of the U12 season and was there four or five years.
"That's the only time I've been rejected from a club and it's still in my mind, and I feel I've done better from that.
"I think it will help me a lot through my career, especially because I was so young. A lot of my friends, when they've been rejected from clubs, they've gone downhill from there or they've stopped playing football."
Taken on by Wycombe, Ibe made his debut aged just 15 years and 244 days while he was still studying for his GCSEs. Two weeks later, in October 2011, he scored against Sheffield Wednesday after earning a first start.
At school the following Monday, his science teacher made the entire class watch the game.
"I remember going into school on the Monday and in my science class we didn't do any science work," Ibe explained. "We watched my match on BBC iPlayer at a computer. I was buzzing.
"It felt weird because it was the first time I'd watched myself on TV in front of people.
"Everything was the same after that but I was nervous with them watching me. I was thinking, 'Do they think I played rubbish?'
"I still see my friends from back then all the time when I have time to go back to London, and they come up here to watch my matches. I get them tickets."
Ibe's family relocated to Liverpool after the club's Academy made contact in 2011-12 - and despite training with the likes of Steven Gerrard and Daniel Sturridge every day, Ibe still has to do the washing up after going home for his tea.
"I live with my mum, my brother and sister, and my stepdad," said the teenager, who has yet to pass his driving test.
"They keep me grounded. My stepdad keeps me humble with football. When I've played good he doesn't really say anything - he says I could do better. He doesn't want it to get to my head, and my mum's pretty much the same.
"She doesn't care about the lifestyle I'm living, she just wants me to behave and do well.
"I have to wash up and put the dinner out. It's still a normal 17-year-old's life."
Back on the pitch, and while Liverpool haven't faced Notts County since March 1992, Ibe has much fresher memories of taking on one of the Football League's founder members.
"I played against them a year and a bit ago now for Wycombe," he said. "We were losing 1-0 and I came on for the last 20 minutes and set up the goal for Joel Grant. I remember the game - we were away.
"It will be a great game for them, playing at Anfield against Coutinho, Gerrard, Sturridge and those kind of players.
"It's a big game for them, they'll be up for it. Football is a funny game, teams from League One and the Championship can beat you.
"I really want to play so I can impress the manager.
"I've been going to bed early and when I've been coming in here in the morning I've been doing my stretches so I can get a head start when we warm up."
After travelling with the Liverpool squad for their tour of Indonesia, Australia and Thailand this summer, and then being in the matchday squad for our season opener against Stoke, Ibe found himself turning out for the U21s against Manchester United last week alongside Fabio Borini and Martin Kelly.
For him it was nice catching up with some familiar faces to whom he owes a lot.
"I've not seen them a lot," said Ibe. "I see Ryan McLaughlin now and then because he's one of my best buds in the team. It was good catching up with them and getting three points against Manchester United.
"I'm really grateful to the staff there. Being at Wycombe, it was a smaller club and there wasn't one-to-one development.
"At Liverpool I feel like they've really honed me and the other players.
"Clive Cook and Phil Roscoe at the Academy also set up things for us to do called Life Skills. We have cooking sessions, construction and what to do if our tyre busts - things like that.
"I can't change a tyre yet but I've been doing cooking and some construction work. Last time I was there I did a chilli con carne with Ryan!"
Now a regular at Melwood, Ibe is mixing with international captains and multi-million pound players day in, day out - but he is adamant he is taking none of it for granted.
"I'm finding it okay," he said. "I still think of myself as a reserves or U21s player so I'm just enjoying it, being around the other players. Hopefully I can stay here until the end of the season.
"It makes me feel happy being in the changing room and seeing my shirt but I know that I need to put in good performances for it to stay there."
Author: Jimmy Rice - Copyright - Liverpoolfc.com