Sean Longstaff has made some interesting claims about a loan offer from Liverpool legend Steven Gerrard back in January 2019.
The midfielder admits he had his ‘heart set’ on a spell with SPL giants Rangers last year, but reveals how Rafa Benitez blocked the move – and threw him into first-team contention weeks later.
Here’s what he’s had to say to NUFC TV, revealing what he told Rafa when he received the offer from Gerrard:
“To be honest, I had been training since the start of the year and I was just champing at the bit really to play,”
“Rafa took me into his office and I remember he said Gerrard wanted to take me to Rangers and I sort of had my heart set on that a little bit.
“I was like, ‘I want to go! I want to go!’ and he was like, ‘No, you can’t go. You’ve got to wait another week or so’ and then he just pulled me before Chelsea and said, ‘You’re going to get a chance’.
“I was over the moon – it was the opportunity I wanted since I was a little kid – and I said to myself at the time, ‘This is what you’ve asked for. It’s up to you to take it now’.
“Luckily, I was able to do that a little bit and run with it and ended up having a good little run. I enjoyed every second of it.”
At the time, you can see why he wanted to go. He would’ve played regularly and learnt a lot under one of the country’s greatest midfielders, however Rafa’s decision to keep him around and start him at Chelsea a few weeks later proved to be a masterstroke.
He looked at home in the Premier League in that 2-1 defeat to Chelsea back in January last year and cemented his place in the side between then and March – where his season was ended earlier via a serious knee injury sustained at West Ham.
He’s yet to find his best form this season, but hopefully he cane take confidence from being handed the North East football writers’ association’s young player of the year award this week.
Sadly, the injury has set him back and Benitez’s exit followed by Bruce’s arrival hasn’t helped his development, but we must stick by our local lad.
Form is temporary, class is permanent – and I believe he’ll be a classy player with the time and the right coaching.