The case of Anthony Gordon and Curtis Jones, heroes of England’s UEFA U-21 Euro triumph in Romania, presents a study in contrast.
England won the UEFA U-21 Euro title for the third time following their 1-0 win against Spain at the Adjarabet Arena in Batumi, Georgia, Romania with Jones netting all the all-important winner, which followed a deflection from Cole Palmer’s free kick.
The Liverpool player was adjudged the Most Valuable Player (MVP) of the final while Newcastle United’s Gordon was named the best player for the 18-day tournament held at eight venues in five cities.
For the records, England became the first team to win the UEFA Euro Under-21 Championship without conceding a single goal in the entire tournament.
But an interesting sub-plot in the U 21 heroes’ career has been the way Liverpool treated the talented duo.
Both Jones and Gordon share a steady friendship since their Liverpool academy days. But while Liverpool released Gordon from the squad as he was found to be too weak to fit into their scheme of things, they persisted with Jones, who is now reposing the faith the Reds had in him.
But the case of Gordon is a curious one. After being found surplus to their requirements, the Reds let them go from their academy. But Liverpool’s loss proved to be Everton’s gain as Gordon made a quick impression with the Toffees before being snapped by Newcastle midway through the season in the January transfer window.
Though Everton got relegated to the Championship following a dismal Premier League season, Gordon was one of the saving graces for the Toffees. He left a lasting impression with them and the fact that the club did not send congratulatory messages to their former player while doing the same with other Everton players like James Garner and Jarrad Branthwaite showed how much they wanted him to stay at the club.
For the records, Gordon scored two goals in the tournament, as England, under Lee Carsley, won the UEFA Euro U-21 Championship for the first time in 39 years.
“He has played the whole tournament at a high level, scoring two goals and providing one assist”, a UEFA statement said while conferring the honour on Gordon.
While whether Liverpool was right or wrong on off loading him seven years back remains open for debate, there is no denying the fact that they lost out on a precocious talent.
On the other hand, Jones another academy graduate reposed the faith that Liverpool had in him by playing a match winning knock in the final, earning his second MVP honour on the trot following the semifinal as England ended their 39-year wait for Euro U-21 title.
“He was always on the ball at the right time, he played excellently between the lines and showed himself to be a real leader of the team,” said the UEFA panel while conferring the MVP honour for Jones.
His deflected goal also helped him become the first Liverpool player since Howard Gayle in 1984 to score in an UEFA U-21 Euro final.