A former Liverpool academy player has admitted deliberately injuring a teammate in order to win a place in Jurgen Klopp’s senior team.
Tom Brewitt, a 23-year-old defender who was released by Morcambe over the summer, says he was desperate to earn a place in Liverpool’s first team for an upcoming FA Cup tie with Exeter City in 2016, Klopp’s first season in charge.
Speaking on the podcast Football Journeys, Brewitt says he targeted Irish defender Daniel Cleary in training, whom he saw as competition for a role in Klopp’s injury-ravaged defence.
"Jurgen knew there was a crisis so he was going to play Jose Enrique centre-half and he was going to bring back Thiago Illori from his loan,” said Brewitt. "We didn't know that until the first week of January, so running up to the back end of December it was [either] me or Dan Cleary who in my head was going to make their debut for Liverpool's first-team in this game.
"Me and Dan always got on to be honest, but I think I ended that relationship. I took the decision, it was me or him, so I went after him in training. Before Christmas and the time between Christmas and New Year, I put myself next to him in in games and I just kicked him. I wasn't trying to hurt him badly but I was trying to hurt him enough so he was out the way and I would play.
"It was about a week before the Exeter game and I took a bit of a heavy touch in a seven-a-side and he's come in to tackle me. I waited a split second too long and absolutely topped him, went over the ball, it was a bad tackle - I knew it was a bad tackle, I did it on purpose and I'm not incredibly proud of it.
"I'm not ashamed of it, either, because in my head it was me or him and I was choosing me."
Brewitt added: "There was a bit of a scuffle after it and I think he got sent in for his reaction. Rightly so [that Cleary was angry] as his reaction was probably bang on, and I finished off the session. He was on crutches for the next two weeks, so it was sort of like, not mission accomplished because I think that's a bit harsh as I didn't want to hurt him, I just needed him out the way for this game."
Brewitt says that “karma probably bit me” when he was concussed a week later, ruling him out of the Exeter match. He never made a senior appearance for Liverpool.
Replying to a clip from the podcast, Clearly, who now plays for Irish champions Dundalk and is preparing for a Europa League meeting with Arsenal later this month, tweeted: “[I was] lucky to walk away from that tackle with my leg in one piece.”
He added: “There’s [being] determined then there’s this [b*****d]… karma always works it’s way back in football… blowing out someone else’s candle doesn’t make yours shine any brighter comes to mind.”