Liverpool FC's 19-year-old keeper Scott Carson tells uefa.com about his UEFA Champions League adventure.
By Greg Demetriou
When Scott Carson became Liverpool FC manager Rafael Benítez's first English signing in January, the 19-year-old goalkeeper professed to being "overwhelmed" by the opportunity.
Despite being a regular for England at Under-21 level, Carson had simply been content to bide his time in the reserves at Leeds United AFC. Indeed, when Benítez came calling he had played just three times for Leeds, who have fallen from the heady heights of the 2001 UEFA Champions League semi-finals to a mid-table position in English football's second tier.
Carson was signed as cover for Polish international Jerzy Dudek with the injured Chris Kirkland likely to miss the rest of the season. However, Dudek has also suffered of late, allowing Carson a first start in the 1-0 defeat at Newcastle United FC on 5 March. With Dudek again sidelined on 2 April, Carson kept a clean sheet in the 1-0 home win against Bolton Wanderers FC.
So to last Tuesday and Carson found himself lining up for the biggest game of his life at a packed Anfield. He more than held his own and while disappointed to concede a second-half goal, Carson had every right to feel proud of his showing in Liverpool's 2-1 Champions League quarter-final victory against Juventus FC.
Speaking to uefa.com, he said: "I can't really say in words how good it feels to get a chance to play in such an important game. It is hard to take in really, no disrespect to Leeds but it is a lot different from playing a reserve game to a quarter-final in the Champions League."
His 'welcome to the big time' moment came on the half-hour mark when Pavel Nedved put Alessandro Del Piero through on goal. Carson stood up to the challenge before swatting away the Italian forward's effort. While the night "went by in a blur", Carson confessed "the save from Del Piero stood out".
It would no doubt have impressed Gianluigi Buffon, the Juventus No1 who, Carson rightly claimed, "is one of the best goalkeepers in the world". The teenager was in awe of Buffon, adding: "We had a drugs test together and he was talking to me a bit and I got his shirt. I hope to see him again in the second leg."
Of the match, he said: "The first half we were exceptional. Apart from that Del Piero chance they haven't had another shot really, that's a credit to the outfield lads. We have got a chance definitely for the second leg."
Carson admitted to being at fault for Fabio Cannavaro's headed goal that left the tie in the balance. "I was a bit disappointed but it is one of them things," he said. "It just bounced in front of me and I got a touch on it, another time it could have gone wide but never mind."
Such an attitude suggests Carson will be stronger for the experience and he certainly has his feet firmly on the ground about keeping his place. "I have only just got here and Jerzy is the No1. I have just got to work hard and hopefully get a few games under my belt."
However, it remains to be seen if Dudek will be fit for Wednesday's return and Carson will not be fazed if he has to line up against Juve again. He continued: "Obviously it is going to be a different stadium and a big test but I feel that if I play then hopefully I can do my bit for the team."