Liverpool hold on to lift FA Youth Cup

April 22, 2006

Liverpool's victorious skipper Stephen Darby hailed a tremendous team effort as the Anfield youngsters claimed the FA Youth Cup on Friday night.

They lost the second leg of the final at Eastlands, but their first leg 3-0 success was just enough to carry them to aggregate victory in front of nearly 10,000 fans.

Local boy Darby, the side's 17-year-old right-back, said: 'This has all been about team effort and spirit. It's been fantastic.

'I am made up for all the lads because we have put so much hard work into this. Everyone has made a contribution.

'We knew it would be tough. They are a great side, a strong side and they never gave up right to the end. We had to work hard as a team and overall got what we deserved.'

City had Liverpool under siege for most of the match, but could only manage two goals from Daniel Sturridge as the Merseysiders somehow weathered the storm of attacks.

Liverpool had 4,000 fans packed into one noisy end of the City of Manchester Stadium, and Maghull-born Darby said: 'We could here the fans right through the game, they really helped us.

'To be a local boy and captain Liverpool to a trophy is something I could only have dreamed about, but now it has come true.

'I am proud and honoured to wear the armband, but it is a team contribution, everybody put it in. I would not want to single anyone out, it has been a great team effort right through the competition.

'It's been tough all the way through. We have beaten the holders and the runners-up, and now one of the best youth sides in the country.'

Liverpool's youth coach Steve Heighway accepted that his side emerged from a constant battering to take the trophy.

He said: 'City were awesome. We could not put two passes together all night long. They forced us back and showed what a great side they are.

'They won every second ball, they were tremendous. There seemed to be blue shirts everywhere. City were just tremendous.

'We have done this the hard way. There have been lots of 17 and 16-year-olds in this run and that makes a big difference at this level.

'It was predominantly about strength and power out there and we do not have a great deal of that.

'Their older lads had that, while a lot of our boys who are younger do not have that yet. We got knocked around a bit and the lessons have been learned.

'To have won the cup after being battered from start to finish is something they will never forget - how to roll your sleeves up and fight for everything despite how much on top the opponents are.'

City academy director Jim Cassell was forced to put a brave face on the result.

He said: 'That was one of the best performances I have been involved in throughout my time in youth football.

'Both individually and as a team we were absolutely outstanding.

'I really did think we were going to win. It was not to be for us but at least we have proved we can play and I would imagine there will be a few others knocking on the first team door as well as Micah in the years ahead.'