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'I played with Steven Gerrard and Luis Suarez at Liverpool but injury left me unable to work'

Former Liverpool midfielder Jordan Lussey has reached a career crisis after being unable to work through injury and has been forced to use his savings for desperate surgery.

Lussey, 29, was on the path to becoming a Liverpool regular when he was named captain of the U18 team, after initially joining the academy as an eight-year-old. In 2014, he was promoted to the senior squad and trained alongside world-class talent such as Steven Gerrard and Luis Suarez but never made his competitive debut.

"I trained regularly with the first team and I played in a few behind-closed-doors friendlies," Lussey told The Athletic. "I scored in one where I had Steven Gerrard with me in midfield and Luis Suarez upfront. I got a taste of it."

Lussey was even picked by then-manager Brendan Rodgers to join Liverpool's Europa League squad ahead of a Round of 32 game against Besiktas, but his career quickly trailed off. Almost 10 years later Lussey is battling to save his soccer career while playing for non-league team Marine.

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The former Liverpool prospect was seen as a future star but was released by the club in 2015 after failing to impress when matched with senior players. That same year he was playing semi-professional soccer and has stayed around that standard ever since.

Lussey now works as a youth soccer coach alongside playing for Marine, but a serious ankle injury left him unsure whether he could continue his passion. "As I turned, my ankle got caught under itself, I rolled it and stood on it," Lussey told The Athletic. "I heard a clunk and then felt a shooting pain.

"I knew straight away it was a bad one. I looked at my ankle and it was completely gone. I thought it was dislocated. But if it was, by the time I got to the hospital it had gone back in."

Lussey playing for Liverpool U21 before being released 12 months later.
Lussey playing for Liverpool U21 before being released 12 months later. -Credit:2014 Getty Images

An MRI scan confirmed that he'd ruptured the anterior talofibular ligament (ATFL) and calcaneofibular ligament (CFL) in his right ankle, and surgery would be needed if he was going to play or be an active coach again. The National Health Service in England said it would be a 12-month wait for surgery, time that Lussey didn't have.

Lussey has two children with his fiance Ellie, who is studying to become a midwife. The former Liverpool player assumed that he could use his insurance policy provided through the soccer club to pay for private treatment, but terms and conditions stated that only broken bones were covered, not ligament damage.

"I’ve done a lot of research into this and I’m trying to raise awareness among semi-pro players to check what level of cover they’ve got. It’s not just the cost of any surgery but also the loss of earnings when you’re unable to work," Lussey said. "Whether it’s the FA, the leagues, or the clubs, more should be in place to protect players so they aren’t hung out to dry."

Jordan Lussey (L) has been playing semi-pro soccer for the past decade.
Jordan Lussey (L) has been playing semi-pro soccer for the past decade. -Credit:2020 Getty Images

The Professional Footballers’ (Soccer) Association in the UK stepped in and offered $12,700 toward his medical bill, and Lussey used his savings to pay for the outstanding balance so he could receive the surgery and return to work as quickly as possible. Lussey is expected to make a full recovery in four months, and despite no longer being employed by Marine, the club is allowing him to complete rehab there.

Lussey also faced pressure from friends and former teammates to set up a fundraising page, following his unfortunate situation. The page has raised over $3,500, and Lussey feels extremely grateful for the support he has received.

"It means a lot. It’s a humbling feeling," Lussey said. "I was persuaded to ask for help and I’ll be forever grateful for the kindness people have shown. I’m still only 29. I wasn’t ready to give up. I’ll put everything I’ve got into getting back and making a statement. I owe it to everyone who has helped me during a difficult period."