HEAD of youth Ricky Duncan feels Southend United helped Liverpool winger Raheem Sterling hit the big time with Liverpool.
The speedy winger scored five goals in the Reds’ 9-0 win against the Shrimpers in the FA Youth Cup at Anfield back in 2011.
And Duncan believes Sterling has not looked back since that night.
“I always joke that Southend helped make Raheem’s career because up until that night I think things had been a bit up and down for him at Liverpool,” recalled Duncan.
“That night he was just incredible though and Kenny Dalglish was watching in the stands.
“The week after he was involved with the first team for a game in the Europa League and he hasn’t looked back since.
“We had Daniel Bentley in goal that night and even now I don’t think he could save any of those shots because he put them right in the corner.”
But Duncan was fully aware of Sterling’s abilities long before he ran riot against his team.
“I first saw him play when he was 14 at QPR and I remember saying at the time he was one of the best players I had ever seen at that age-group,” said Duncan.
“He was just so quick and it’s not really a surprise how well he has been doing.”
GLENN JOHNSON TOWERED ABOVE PEERS - AS BLUES FOUND OUT
GLENN Johnson showed an early glimpse of his talent by bagging a hat-trick in West Ham United’s 3-0 win against Southend United in the FA Youth Cup back in 2000.
The Liverpool right-back headed home a trio of headers to help the Hammers see off the Shrimpers.
And Blues’ head of youth Ricky Duncan vividly remembers the defender’s ability in the air.
“All of Glenn’s goals came from headers from set pieces and we just couldn’t near him from them,” said Duncan.
“I remember there not really being much between the two teams in open play and it was a good game because both sides played some very good football.
“But unfortunately Glenn’s headers, which all came inside the opening half an hour if I remember correctly, proved to be the difference between the two teams.”
Johnson was also joined in the Hammers squad that night by a certain Freddy Eastwood who came on as a substitute towards the start of the second half.
THE DAY RICKIE LAMBERT RAN RIOT AGAINST SOUTHEND UNITED
FORMER Blues skipper Adam Barrett has blocked out the day Rickie Lambert ran riot against his side.
The powerful striker scored four goals inside the opening 55 minutes of the game to help Bristol Rovers beat the Shrimpers 4-2 at the Memorial Ground in 2008.
But the Benfleet based Barrett remembers very little about the defeat.
“It must have been a bad one because I don’t even remember playing it in at all,” said the 34-year-old.
“I can’t argue with the archives but if you hadn’t have told me I played in it I wouldn’t know at all.”
However, Barrett does remember his other battles with Lambert and is pleased to have seen him go on to do so well.
“I’ve played against him loads of time and it’s refreshing to see someone go up the leagues like he has,” said Barrett, who is now with Gillingham.
“I’m spoke with him at the PFA awards a few months ago and he’s actually a really nice guy so I’m glad to see doing well and that he’s made it in to our World Cup squad.”
>FRANK Lampard scored at Roots Hall to help Chelsea see off the Shrimpers 4-1 in a third round FA Cup replay in 2009.
The Chelsea manager that night was current Brazil boss Luiz Felipe Scolari.
Lampard also attended Brentwood School at the same time as former Blues striker Neil Harris.
>BLUES striker Lee Barnard lined up alongside four members of England’s World Cup squad during his spell with Southampton.
Barnard played in the same Saints side as Luke Shaw, Rickie Lambert, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Adam Lallana.
Oxlade-Chamberlain, Lallana and Lambert all lined up for the Saints in their 3-1 at the St Mary’s Stadium in 2010.
Lambert scored twice while Lallana was also on target.
Lallana also bagged a brace to help Southampton triumph 3-1 at Roots Hall back in 2009.
>WAYNE Rooney endured one of the worst nights of his career against Southend United at Roots Hall in 2006.
The striker played the full 90 minutes but was unable to stop Manchester United crashing out of the League Cup.
>GOALKEEPER Ben Foster secured his big break after producing a man of the match performance for Wrexham against Southend United in the 2005 LDV final at the Millennium Stadium.
Foster pulled off a string of fine saves to help Wrexham win 2-0 and impressed the watching Sir Alex Ferguson who was in the stands to watch his son Darren in action for the Welshmen.
Four months after the final, Ferguson took Foster to Manchester United and he has remained at a high level of the game ever since.
>SOUTHEND United’s current first team coach Graham Coughlan was managed by England boss Roy Hodgson during his time at Blackburn Rovers.
Coughlan also once scored against centre-back Phil Jagielka when he went in goal for Sheffield United against Plymouth Argyle.