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Brendan Rodgers' amazing journey to Liverpool manager


Brendan Rodgers

Brendan Rodgers

Brendan Rodgers

It's a long way from the sleepy fishing port of Carnlough to the hallowed turf of Anfield.

Brendan Rodgers (39), who grew up in the harbour village situated on the beautiful Antrim coast, has been confirmed as the new manager of Liverpool Football Club.

Now on his way to make his mark at the hallowed stadium, he is a figure who inspires pride among the people of Carnlough.

Rodgers will be the first Ulster manager of the world-famous club and has been offered a three-year deal with the Reds.

The father-of-two and grandfather-of-one previously coached at Chelsea, Watford, Reading and Swansea.

Rodgers has never forgotten where he came from, keeping his Carnlough twang and hard-working ways.

He’s held in high esteem by the residents of the village, which boasts a small, picturesque harbour, one hotel, two bars and a few shops selling ice cream, sweets and seaside toys.

His footballing career started at Ballymena United before he moved to Reading FC at the age of 18.

He had previously turned out for Carnlough Swifts (previously Carnlough United) and still holds his old team close to his heart.

Swifts manager Martin McKinley said Rodgers has stayed in touch with the team and helps them out financially from time to time.

“I run the local football club and have done for the past 25-30 years.

“Brendan was a former player and we keep in touch with him.

“This is obviously a big step for him — one that he is more than capable of, considering the hard work he has put in over the years,” Mr McKinley said.

Rodgers hasn’t played football himself in decades because of injury, but, determined to stay in the game, he went straight in to coaching in 1990 and quickly made an impression. He became a close friend of Jose Mourinho after he started coaching the Chelsea youth team in 2004.

Mr McKinley said: “Brendan hasn’t played football in over 20 years — he is a young coach but he isn’t a stranger to coaching.

“He went to Reading then the Chelsea youth team and he was endorsed by Mourinho.

“Brendan was a great achiever at Swansea, and what he has achieved in a short space of time I have no doubt he is capable of at a higher level.”

Throughout Carnlough there was full support for the new Liverpool boss and a strong belief he can turn around a team that had a disappointing Premier League season under Kenny Dalglish.

Local councillor Oliver McMullan said: “I am very pleased for him, he has worked very hard and has a record at Swansea, Reading and Chelsea.

“This is a testament to his hard work and it is great to see someone from Carnlough getting this post. I went to school with his late father. It is always good to see someone do well.”

Rodgers trekked Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa 2011, raising money for the Marie Curie cancer charity after he buried both of his parents within a year of each other.

Danny McCambridge (63) from Carnlough said: “It is very sad — his parents passed away and didn’t get to see the real highlights of his career. They would have both been so over the Moon. The lived behind me and they were a well-reared family.”

One diehard Liverpool fan from Carnolugh was ecstatic at the prospect of having a local man manage the club.

Declan Diamond (18) said: “Its unbelievable, you wouldn’t think anyone from Carnlough would end up managing Liverpool.

“I am very happy as a Liverpool fan. I think he will turn the club around, we have to be optimistic. I have spoken to him before and I wish him all the best.”

Belfast Telegraph