• At 18 years and 340 days, Jones becomes the youngest player to score for the Reds in a Merseyside derby since Robbie Fowler did so in March 1994. He wasn’t even born when Everton last won at Anfield in September 1999.
• Match of the Day co-commentator Martin Keown added: “To have the audacity to have a go from there and the technique to pull it off, fantastic!”
A Liverpool-born teenager scoring a screamer from 20 yards in a game featuring Everton. Now why does that sound familiar?
More than 17 years on from Wayne Rooney announcing his arrival in English football with a stunning goal for the Toffees against Arsenal, Liverpool midfielder Curtis Jones sent his side into the fourth round of the FA Cup with a similarly outrageous effort in a 1-0 victory over Everton. And it was hard not to draw comparisons between the two.
“Remember Wayne Rooney’s first goal for Everton? We were thinking ‘we have got somebody special here’,” former Premier League striker Dion Dublin said on BBC Radio 5 Live. “I’ve got to tip my hat to the young man — what a finish and his first goal for his hometown club!”
Match of the Day co-commentator Martin Keown added: “To have the audacity to have a go from there and the technique to pull it off, fantastic!”
At 18 years and 340 days, Jones becomes the youngest player to score for the Reds in a Merseyside derby since Robbie Fowler did so in March 1994. He wasn’t even born when Everton last won at Anfield in September 1999.
He was just 20 months old when Rooney ended Arsenal’s 30-game unbeaten streak with a last-minute curling effort that beat David Seaman before crashing in off the underside of the crossbar in 2002.
Rooney is still playing, and to good effect according to his new manager, but Jones is the new kid on the block on Merseyside, sending Jurgen Klopp’s men into Monday’s fourth-round draw with a curling effort that left England goalkeeper Jordan Pickford flapping at thin air.
“The ball came to me and I only had one thing in mind - to shoot. Luckily enough it led to the match-winner and a great goal,” said Jones. “It’s massive for me and the rest of the young boys. At times it’s frustrating thinking you might get a chance but then having to sit on the bench and watch. We proved that we’re learning every day and trying to push for a place in the team.
“I dream of a lot of things but this one was more than a dream. There are world-class players in this team but I think I went out and showed what I could do on the pitch.”
Former England captain Alan Shearer, speaking on Match of the Day, added: “What about Jones’ confidence saying he was frustrated that he can’t get an opportunity in this Liverpool side? Well he has had one today and, boy, has he taken it. What a finish that was - the keeper had no chance with that.”
Having grown up in Toxteth in the middle of Liverpool, Jones joined the Reds’ youth set-up at under-nine level, progressing through every age group before making his under-23s debut in January 2018.
The very next month, he signed his first professional contract at Anfield and was named in Klopp’s matchday squad for their Premier League fixture against Everton in April of the same year.
He featured in the majority of the Reds’ pre-season fixtures before the 2018-19 season, and looked “anything but overawed” when he faced Borussia Dortmund in the International Champions Cup in North Carolina.
“A proper Scouser,” said Klopp at the time.
Back on British shores, he made his first-team debut exactly 12 months ago in the FA Cup third round, starting in the 2-1 defeat by Wolves.
“It was a big thing for me. I was grateful, I was honoured, and I can only thank the boss for putting me out there,” Jones said after that game. “As a 17-year-old boy coming from Liverpool, it’s every kid’s dream being a footballer and going out there and playing for Liverpool.”
But more was to come from the youngster, and he signed a long-term contract with the club in August last year. The following month, he was chosen as player of the match in the EFL Cup win over MK Dons before scoring the winning penalty in a shootout against Arsenal in the next round.
He made his Premier League debut against Bournemouth in December, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Liverpool have played 11 games in four competitions since the start of December so Klopp used the FA Cup as an opportunity to make sweeping changes. He brought in nine players who had not featured in the Premier League win over Sheffield United on Thursday. In addition to Jones, 16-year-old Harvey Elliott and 18-year-old Neco Williams were among the starters, with another teenager, Yasser Larouci, coming for the injured James Milner after only nine minutes.
“All the kids played so well — I have no words for that,” said Klopp. “The football they played, they showed the right principles — pressing in all the right places. So many good performances, I couldn’t be more proud. A sensational game and a sensational goal from a Scouser - who could ask for more?”
Shearer added: “That was an absolutely magnificent performance from Liverpool. The youngsters looked as if they were the experienced professionals and had been around for years when it should have been the other way around.”