Teenager Ki-Jana Hoever became Liverpool‘s youngest-ever player in the FA Cup when the 16-year-old made his first-team debut as a sixth-minute substitute for Dejan Lovren in the third round tie at Wolves.
Hoever is the third-youngest player of all time to feature for the club and Press Association Sport takes at look at the defender.
Born on January 18, 2002. He joined Ajax’s academy after a spell with AZ Aklmaar. He moved to Liverpool – who beat off competition from Manchester City, Manchester United and Chelsea – in the summer but had to wait until September for his international clearance. As he had not signed a professional contract Ajax were only entitled to minimum compensation. He scored three goals in his first five matches for Holland Under-17s.
The highly-rated Dutch youth international made his debut for Liverpool Under-18s in a 4-1 win over Newcastle on September 15. He made his UEFA Youth League debut three days later against Paris St Germain and his Premier League 2 bow for the under-23s came at the end of November against Everton. Late last month he joined first-team training at Melwood.
He made such an impression in his Premier League 2 debut against Everton coach Neil Critchley said: “Unbelievable. Sixteen years old? Just… wow, really!” Jurgen Klopp, when talking about the prospect of Hoever making his debut against Wolves, admitted he viewed the Dutchman as one for long-term development. “He is for sure for the future of the club, but when the future starts I do not know,” said the German. “It will happen automatically. It is a nice prospect for the next months and years.”
The 16-year-old can play at centre-back or on the right side of defence and has already drawn comparisons with compatriot and now first-team team-mate Virgil Van Dijk. He has also played further forward for Liverpool’s youth teams with his standout display coming in that 1-0 win over Everton. His development was certainly helped by his time in Ajax’s academy. As Liverpool Under-18s manager Barry Lewtas said: “He comes from a good stock. I’d feel embarrassed if I sat here and took credit for him.”
Anyone feeling old?
While Hoever was just learning to stand up and probably and say his first word as a 10-month-old, current Liverpool team-mate James Milner was making his first-team debut for Leeds aged 16 years and 309 days. Hoever was exactly 296 days old.