Liverpool midfielder Jay Spearing has revealed that playing alongside his idols has made him the player he is.
In an interview with the Daily Mirror, Spearing talked of how he has broken into the first team, what the experience was like when he first started out and how he wishes to become a key figure for his side.
“It’s incredible, isn’t it? The stuff you dream about as a kid,” the 23-year-old said.
“When I came into the first team squad at the beginning, I was star-struck – I didn’t even want to say hello to Steven Gerrard because he was who he was and was someone who I looked up to so much.
“There were the likes of him, Xabi Alonso, Mascherano, Lucas – all world class talents. When you first join that, you don’t want to say anything to them, even though you’ve got to ask for the ball, you think, ‘I can’t shout at him!’”
The ex-Leicester City loanee – who will be brimming with confidence following his top performance in Kenny Dalglish’s side’s semi final FA Cup victory over Everton – knew he had to eliminate any feelings of being in awe of his team-mates if he wished to make it anywhere near their level.
“You’ve got to adapt though, because the aim is to get to their level and play alongside them. You can’t be star-struck for too long, otherwise you won’t make it,” Spearing said.
“I looked at them, and I thought, ‘What puts them above me? What can I take from them that will get me there?’ I am still doing that.”
Dalglish has been fundamental to Spearing’s season, instilling the Merseyside-born midfielder with belief by consistently picking the youngster. But the ex-youth player for the Reds is determined to keep pushing for a starting position in the FA Cup final against Chelsea in May.
“I played in the semi final. I have played in the big games, and that is what I wanted. Now I have got the final to aim for, and I want to play – if I don’t play I’ll be massively disappointed,” he said.
“For me, I think I’ve made the breakthrough into the squad and proved I can be relied on, but the step up to the next level is to be seen as a player who is in there week in, week out, even when the best players are fit.”
Spearing will be hoping to continue his great run of form on Sunday afternoon as West Brom travel north in Roy Hodgson’s return to Anfield.
A victory for Liverpool could move them two points above Merseyside rivals Everton into seventh position if the Toffees fail to come away with anything at Old Trafford in the earlier lunchtime kick-off.