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These three teenagers have inspired Liverpool to glory this week. The trio’s fathers were all professional soccer stars

<i>Peter Byrne/PA Images/Getty Images via CNN Newsource</i><br/>Lewis Koumas scored on his senior debut against Southampton.
Peter Byrne/PA Images/Getty Images via CNN Newsource
Lewis Koumas scored on his senior debut against Southampton.

By Ben Church, CNN

(CNN) — Look at Liverpool’s team sheet of late and you’ll start to feel very old, very quickly.

With the English Premier League club vying to win an historic quadruple this season, and with injuries ravaging the senior squad, manager Jurgen Klopp has turned to the club’s famed academy for help. It’s safe to say, this soccer kindergarten hasn’t let him down.

Just as they did during Sunday’s Carabao Cup victory, ‘Klopp’s Kids’ – as they’ve been dubbed – impressed yet again as the crop of youngsters inspired Liverpool to a 3-0 win against Southampton in the FA Cup fifth round on Wednesday.

The goals were scored by two 18-year-olds – first a deflected effort from debutant Lewis Koumas and then a second-half brace by local boy Jayden Danns – as Anfield fell further in love with this new, exciting generation of talent.

By scoring, Koumas and Danns also wrote a new page of history for Liverpool – never before had two players aged 18 or under scored in the same senior game for the club.

“I couldn’t be happier today. Today is the best day of my life,” said Danns, who has supported Liverpool his whole life, after scoring two goals in front of the famous Kop – the historic end of the stadium behind one of the goals.

And while Danns and Koumas got on the scoresheet, 19-year-old Bobby Clark produced an assist for the latter.

There were also impressive performances from James McConnell, 19, Kaide Gordon, 19, and a memorable debut for 16-year-old Trey Nyoni.

At 16 years and 243 days, Nyoni became the youngest Liverpool player to appear in the FA Cup and is now the third youngest to ever play for the men’s first team.

While the success of the young stars is credit to the club’s academy, it’s also notable that three of those starring on Wednesday come from footballing families – the dads of Clark, Danns and Koumas were all former Premier League players.

Jayden Danns, 18

Danns joined the Liverpool academy at the age of eight, progressing through the ranks and earning a reputation as a lethal finisher in front of goal.

He demonstrated such skills against Southampton, showing great movement and composure to score his first for the club, with a cheeky chip over the goalkeeper.

His second may have looked like a tap-in, but the movement and awareness showed by the teenager points towards an understanding of the game that is way beyond his junior years.

His father, former Premier League player Neil Danns, was at Anfield to watch his son score his first two goals for the senior side. He was also at Wembley Stadium on Sunday to watch his son pick up a winners medal after he made a late substitute appearance in the final against Chelsea.

Danns Snr. is the current assistant manager of English lower league side Tranmere, and says the whole family is hugely proud of what his son has achieved this season.

“Having been a player myself for 22 years, anything I see or think can help him, I’m always going to do that,” Danns Snr. told The Athletic, when asked about what guidance he has given his son.

“But I just want him to live out his dreams.”

Lewis Koumas, 18

It’s a similar story for Lewis Koumas. The youngster joined Liverpool from Tranmere as an 11-year-old in 2016, and has since made a big impact in the youth setup.

His father is former Wales international Jason Koumas, who enjoyed an impressive career and played multiple seasons in the Premier League for clubs such as Wigan and West Bromwich Albion.

Koumas Jnr. was making his debut for Liverpool on Wednesday and looked more than capable at the highest level.

His industrious first half was rewarded in the 44th minute after his speculative shot was deflected into the net, sparking wild celebrations both on and off the pitch.

“A triumph for Liverpool’s nepo babies as more teenage dreams come true with a goal for Lewis Koumas and two for Jayden Danns,” quipped Independent journalist Richard Jolly on social media.

Bobby Clark, 19

Koumas can thank a fellow academy graduate for the assist of his goal. Clark, who has been around the first-team since 2022, was sharp again on Wednesday and looks set for a more regular role in the team.

Clark joined the club’s youth setup from Newcastle in 2021, amid plenty of attention from other clubs, and is perhaps the standout from the new crop of players emerging from the academy.

His father is former Newcastle and Fulham favourite Lee Clark, who embarked on a managerial career after retiring as a player. His work took him to places such as Sudan and Oman, but he would always get updates on how his son was developing back home.

“I’d get calls from ex-teammates or friends working in football saying they had seen him and thought he was a really good player,” Clark Sr. told The Athletic.

“Sometimes you think they’re just being nice but when I came out of football, I could watch him on a more regular basis and realised what people had been telling me was true.”

Since stepping away from management, Clark has been able to watch his son more closely and was in tears after seeing Liverpool win the Carabao Cup at the weekend.

While it’s not uncommon for the children of footballers to make it themselves as professionals, having three come through the same club at similar times is certainly rare.

And while it can’t hurt having one-to-one advice from a former pro, the teenagers’ emergence also point to the remarkable work being done by Liverpool’s youth setup, notably academy director Alex Inglethorpe.

Inglethorpe recently spoke to Liverpool Jamie Carragher about the demands and expectations set for youngsters coming through the ranks at the Premier League club, and it’s clear that character means just as much as talent.

Inglethorpe said young players are encouraged not to wear expensive watches and are prevented from driving cars with engines over 1.3 litres. It’s all about keeping egos in check, something instilled in the club by first-team manager Klopp.

“[Klopp] is switched on to everything,” Inglethorpe told Carragher in The Telegraph. “If a kid turned up to first-team training with a £10k watch, he would see it. So would the senior players. You tell me, what would you think?”

Even as he nears the end of his tenure at Liverpool, Klopp’s influence is evidently still taking the club to new levels.

He will likely rely on his youngsters throughout the rest of the season with the team still competing on three fronts. Having already won one trophy, Liverpool currently sits top of the Premier League by one point, faces Manchester United in the FA Cup quarterfinals and will play Sparta Prague in the last-16 of the Europa League.

Whatever happens for the remainder of the season, though, it seems the club’s future is safe in the hands of this new generation of stars.

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