Brazil legend Cafu sends message to Trent Alexander-Arnold

Early success

At the age of 20, Liverpool full-back Trent Alexander-Arnold has already achieved plenty in his young career, doing things that some professionals play their whole careers for yet don’t quite reach it.

In 2018, the youngster helped his team reach the Champions League final, during which he started and was given the unenviable task of marking Cristiano Ronaldo, an assignment which he carried out admirably, helping keep the forward off the scoresheet.

It ultimately ended in disappointment as he was unable to win the European Cup for his boyhood club, but the journey to both reach the final and play in it will serve him well going forward in his career.

Alexander-Arnold’s form throughout the European campaign then helped him earn a place in Gareth Southgate’s 23-man squad for the World Cup, during which England reached the semi-finals before being knocked out by Croatia.

He played one game during the tournament, featuring in 79 minutes of England’s clash against Belgium and went on to score his first international goal later that year.

For a player so young, Alexander-Arnold has experienced plenty to date and still has his best years ahead of him, having already established himself as the Reds’ first-choice right-back - a position that was not natural to him during his youth career.

He converted to play full-back to help his chances of breaking through to the first-team and it's a decision that is now paying dividends.

Trent Alexander-Arnold

Mentoring

One man who knows a thing or two about playing as a right-back is Brazil legend Cafu, who captained his country to glory in the 2002 World Cup, playing in a team alongside stars such as Rivaldo, Ronaldinho and Ronaldo.

Also a winner of the 1994 World Cup and Serie A and the Champions League during his days with AC Milan, Cafu retired as one of the greatest players ever to play his position in 2008.

He has now offered a word of advice for Alexander-Arnold, telling him not to take what he currently has for granted and to keep working to improve.

"To play for the England national team, you have to be very good and to play at Liverpool, you have to be very, very good," he said.

"But it takes time to mature and be consistent. Yes, he is very talented. For his position, I would advise him to work hard, do a lot of training, but above all show a lot of commitment to what he does.

"Never think that he is good enough. Don't get complacent or big-headed. Work more and more.

"When I was the same age, I was playing for Sao Paulo in the main team. I was a father, so I had a lot of responsibility.

"Twenty years old is a good age to make a decision if he wants to be a football player or a 'professional' football player with a long, respected career."

Cafu

‘The Scouse Cafu’

This isn’t the first time Cafu has kept an eye on a scouse-born Liverpool friendship, having previously struck up an unlikely relationship with a former Red.

It's approaching nearly five years since Brazil’s Cafu met ‘the Scouse Cafu’ Jon Flanagan, who he often spoke of his appreciation for and was eventually invited to Merseyside to meet him and a number of players in their squad.

Flanagan became a cult hero on the Kop during the Reds’ close run to the title in 2013/14, being a regular in the side under Brendan Rodgers at left-back and even earned an England call-up off the back of it.

He may have been slightly wide of the mark in his impressions of him though, saying: "We had lunch and took some pictures together. He is very fit and has everything required to be one of the best full-backs in the world."

Since then Flanagan has been released by Liverpool and is now a squad player under former teammate Steven Gerrard at Rangers.

Hopefully his praise of Alexander-Arnold will prove to be more accurate in the coming years and the advice given could be invaluable for a young player such as Liverpool’s no.66. He could do far worse than listen to a two-time World Cup winner.


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