Back in 2006, Liverpool recorded a rather unique double. Whilst the senior side beat West Ham in a six-goal thriller to win the FA Cup, mostly remembered for Steven Gerrard’s wonder-strike and a chaotic penalty shootout, the Reds’ U18s string lifted the youth version in the same summer, beating Manchester City 3-2 on aggregate. We know what happened to most of the players involved at the Millennium Stadium, but what about their younger counterparts? Where are they now? FootballFanCast takes a look…
David Roberts got Liverpool into the final with some penalty-saving heroics in the semis but that was very much the highlight of his footballing career. He was released in 2007 and went on to have spells at Bangor City and Weymouth, before signing for Aberystwyth Town. Not much has been heard of Roberts since, apart from him being involved in a drunken punch-up after a pub quiz in Newcastle in 2008.
Right-back Stephen Darby captained the Reds in both legs and was later dubbed Mr. Consistency by reserve team manager Gary Ablett. The defender was given the chance to prove that consistency at first-team level and went on to make debuts for the Reds in the FA Cup, League Cup, Premier League and Champions League. After just one appearance in each competition and loan spells at Swindon, Rochdale and Notts County however, Darby was eventually released in 2012 and signed by Bradford. He’s been with the Bantams ever since and has made 22 appearances this season as Stuart McCall’s side prepare for the League One playoffs.
Robbie Threlfall didn’t have quite as much luck as his former team-mate on the opposing flank, only ever featuring for the Reds’ senior string in a pre-season friendly. Interestingly, he also made his way to Bradford City but arrived two-and-a-half years earlier, initially on loan, and represented them only in League Two. He left in the same summer Darby signed, meaning there was no glorious former Reds full-back reunion at Valley Parade, and signed for Morecambe. He left upon the expiration of his contract in 2014, and appears to still be without a professional club.
Billed for big things at Anfield, Jack Hobbs made five appearances for Liverpool, including two in the Premier League, during the first half of the 2007/08 season. But that would be the end of his involvement with the first team as loan spells with Scunthorpe and Leicester City followed. He signed for the Foxes permanently in 2009 and also represented another now-Premier League side in Hull City, but didn’t feature for either in the top flight. Aged 28, the centre-back is now hoping Nottingham Forest will stay in the Championship – but he hasn’t actually featured since February.
Godwin Antwi may have gone on to have the most unusual career of all Liverpool’s 2006 FA Youth Cup winners. He was brought to the club by chief scout Paco Herrera and even represented Spain four times at U19 level, but Antwi’s career didn’t progress much further from there. After four loan spells in the Football League and being released by Liverpool in 2009, he signed for Danish outfit Vejle Boldklub. He went on to ply his trade in Norway before making the monumental switch to Malaysian football in 2015 where he remains today. He was a key player for DRB-Hicom before their financial implosion, and now represents Melaka United.
Charlie Barnett never graduated to first-team level on Merseyside and after a second FA Youth Cup win in 2007 was sent packing to Tranmere Rovers a year later. The midfielder helped Tranmere remain in League One for two seasons but was subsequently allowed to leave for Accrington Stanley following a failed trial at Falkirk. He lasted three years at Stanley, scoring three goals in 95 appearances, before moving to Telford United in 2013. He left two years later, and is yet to find another club.
Liverpool ironically pinched Paul Barratt from Manchester City’s academy but after it became clear he’d have little future as a professional footballer – undergoing a loan spell with Northwich Victoria – he turned his hand to coaching instead. He now heads up Liverpool’s academy setup in Dubai, after doing a similar job in Indonesia.
Nabbed from Scottish football, Ryan Flynn showed plenty of promise when he netted the winner in the FA Youth Cup final to make it 3-2 on aggregate. But first-team football never came and after a successful loan spell in 2009/10, winning the SPL Young Player of the Month award in March, he returned to the club Liverpool had poached him from – Falkirk. However, the move was only temporary and Flynn switched back to the English game a year later with Sheffield United, as part of the squad that made the League One playoffs thrice and unexpectedly marched to the semi-finals of the 2014/15 League Cup. He left Bramall Lane a year later and now turns out for Oldham.
Part of the swap deal that saw John Welsh move to Hull City, Paul Anderson was tipped for big things and even compared by some to Michael Owen – although he was always more of a winger than an out-and-out striker. Anderson’s gone on to enjoy a relatively successful career, representing three clubs in the Championship and three in League One, and was even briefly reunited with Stephen Darby at Bradford City. He’s now a key part of Northampton’s squad, notching up six goals in the third tier this season.
Adam Hammill may have never been given his senior debut at Liverpool, but he did briefly return to the Premier League with Wolves during the 2010/11 and 2011/12 campaigns, making 19 top flight appearances in total. The rest of the winger’s career has been spent in the Football League, however, albeit representing some well-established clubs in Southampton, Middlesbrough and Huddersfield. After falling out of favour at the latter club and enduring a loan spell at Rotherham, Hammill was released by mutual consent and spent several months of 2015 unemployed, until re-signing for Barnsley in November. He remains there to this day, helping them to Championship survival this season with three goals and two assists in 37 appearances.
Forward Craig Lindfield was Liverpool’s top scorer in the FA Youth Cup that season and did make steps towards first-team level at Anfield, scoring against Crewe in pre-season the following summer. But progress after was limited and following several goal-shy loan spells and a double hernia, he was released in August 2009. Changing his game slightly to become more of a winger, Lindfield struggled to establish himself in the Football League and the best form of his career came at FC United of Manchester – netting 19 times in 67 appearances and helping them win the Northern Premier League title in 2015. He’s now with another Manchester club in the form of Trafford.