'It's been an experience I will never forget,' says U17s ace

Thursday 22 Oct 2015
Trent Alexander-Arnold examines the damage caused by the tsunami in Coquimbo

Although the opportunity to play in a FIFA World Cup is one to be treasured, Trent Alexander-Arnold is appreciative of the life experiences Chile is providing off the pitch as well as on it.

The Liverpool midfielder is in South America as part of the England Under-17s squad for the showpiece tournament, but away from the magic of facing some of the world's finest young talents on the field, he has been left humbled by devastation he has found away from the match action.

The Young Lions squad are staying in La Serena on the west coast as they prepare to conclude the group stage with a clash against South Korea on Friday. 

England v South Korea

FIFA Under-17s World Cup
Group B
9pm BST, Friday 23 October
Estadio Francisco Sanchez Rumoroso, Coquimbo
Live on Eurosport 2

On Wednesday afternoon Alexander-Arnold and a number of his team-mates visited the neighbouring town of Coquimbo and found a community still trying to rebuild itself after being devastated by an earthquake and tsunami last month.

“The damage was crazy down there," the Reds youngster told TheFA.com. "Outside of our hotel you can’t tell that there has been that much damage, but visiting the site where it had most impact makes you realise how lucky you are.

“Even just things like having normal pavements and roads, we take it for granted, but the ones there were completely destroyed. Homes, buses, shops… So much was destroyed in that tsunami and I felt quite humbled by it really.

“It makes you realise how lucky we are to have houses that are safe and not in any danger of natural disasters. We saw people that have had their whole lives ruined and ripped away from them. It just taught me not to take everyday things that come easy to us for granted. It was really sad.

Alexander-Arnold examines the devastation of the tsunami

Alexander-Arnold examines the devastation of the tsunami in Coquimbo

“I’ve never been to anywhere that is regularly threatened by earthquakes and tsunamis before. We’ve felt a few rumbles and tremors since we have been here due to the aftershocks of the earthquake, but nothing compared to what struck a month ago. It really has been an experience I will never forget.”

Having gained first-hand life experience few in his West Derby estate on Merseyside can match off the pitch, the midfielder has also been busy gaining invaluable insights on it.

The 17-year-old made his first appearance of the tournament during the 1-0 defeat against Brazil on Tuesday, and ahead of the must-win showdown on Friday, Alexander-Arnold is hoping to continue his learning curve in South America.

“I don’t want to go home with that as my only appearance at the World Cup,” he said. 

“We have played well in both matches, stuck to our game plan and carried it out well, but the results have been harsh on us – but we are not feeling sorry for ourselves at all.

“I didn’t appear in the Guinea match that we drew 1-1, but I felt I did OK against Brazil and I’d love another chance to try and get us that first win on Friday and hopefully help us go through.”

Trent Alexander-Arnold in training in La Serena

Trent Alexander-Arnold in training in La Serena

Knowing they need a win to progress, Alexander-Arnold believes strongly that he and his team-mates can ensure England progress into the last 16.

“We’ve spoken about it as a team and we all share the feeling that we have kind of got to the knockout stage early,” he explained.

“We win and we’re through, we don’t and it looks like we will be going home. Knowing we have to win has given us that extra incentive.

“Hopefully we can do that and stay out here a little longer, that’s what everybody wants to do.”

Despite their opponents already being secure of their place in the knockouts, Alexander-Arnold is expecting no favours from South Korea. And he is in no doubt that they will be giving it their all to continue their 100 per cent start to the competition.

“They will want to keep their winning run going and we know they are a good side, but we have to be at our best.

“We aren’t expecting them to take it lightly, so we have to be ready, which we will be, to give it everything we have.”

England tackle South Korea in their must-win final Group B clash on Friday at 9pm BST live on Eurosport 2.

By Gary Stonehouse Staff Writer in La Serena, Chile