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Liverpool's U.S. youngster Brooks Lennon out to emulate Ronaldo

LIVERPOOL, England -- Liverpool youngster Brooks Lennon's journey to Merseyside club was slightly fortuitous, but there is a feeling that fate, perhaps, played its part in the move all along.

The American, 19, officially joined Liverpool in July 2015 from MLS side Real Salt Lake and, speaking to ESPN FC and other reporters at Liverpool's academy in Kirkby ahead of the under-23s' Premier League International Cup game against Wolfsburg on Wednesday, Lennon discussed his football upbringing in the United States and hopes for the future.

Q. Can you take us back to the very start and how you got interested in soccer?

A. I started when I was around three or four years old, I was really young. My dad used to play professional soccer back in the States, so he got me involved when I was really young. And my older brother, who is 22 now, he played soccer and I just followed in his footsteps and wanted to be like him. That's just how it started and I went through the ranks to club soccer, academy soccer and now at the professional level.

Q. Is your dad's name really John? Can you set the record straight?

A. Yes, that is true! I haven't done The Beatles tours [around Liverpool] but I have heard about all the history and The Beatles starting here. It's definitely a coincidence that I'm a Lennon and I'm in Liverpool, hopefully it's a positive.

Q. Can you explain how the move to Liverpool come about because the tale is quite remarkable, isn't it?

A. Well, I was at Real Salt Lake academy for two years and towards the end I was getting offers from universities to play soccer there or I come over here [to the UK] to play on trial. Liverpool wanted to sign me and I weighed up my options and decided to bypass college and go straight pro.

I'm really happy with my decision and it's been ever so successful so far. It was a weird kind of few weeks when I was over for trial. I was coming to visit Marc Pelosi [a former Liverpool academy trainee] who was my old roommate here. I came to visit him and went to a game at Anfield -- an U21 game against Tottenham. I was there and Frank McPartland, who was head of the academy at the time, just asked me what I was doing in the week and wanted to get to know me a little bit more. So I came on trial here for a couple of days and then he wanted me to stay for a few more weeks and I kept playing in friendly matches, scoring a couple of goals. That's how it all went about and I just eventually signed a contract.

Q. It took a long time for you to actually sign a contract with Liverpool but it eventually got sorted when you obtained an Irish passport in the end...

A. It took about a year and a half for everything to kind of settle down and get put into place. Now it's all settled and I'm really happy. I definitely feel like that whole process was just such a long road and it was so difficult, but the support that Liverpool showed and how they helped me through made me feel really welcome and I'm really happy for that.

Q. What differences did you find between the academy you were at in America and coming over here?

A. There is a lot of similarities and a lot of differences. Similarities-wise, the Liverpool academy and the Real Salt Lake academy are similar because the players are very skilful. There was a lot of skill on my old team and it prepared me really well for Liverpool.

There's major differences as to speed of play -- it's much faster here in England. The physicality is much better and I've kind of got used to it since I've been here and I feel like I've developed as a player, especially on the physicality side.

Q. Does the story of Borussia Dortmund's Christian Pulisic give you and other American players hope that you can make an impact in Europe?

A. Of course. I've played with Christian [in U.S. youth teams] before. He's a good kid and he's succeeding really well. He's playing a lot at Dortmund and also getting his chance with the first team at the international level. It definitely gives hope for the young American kids that are in Europe and hope that I can be alongside him and break into the first team here at Liverpool and hopefully get my chance with the U.S. I just need to stay focused and I think it will happen.

Q. Did you idolise anyone in particular when you were growing up?

A. My idol right now is Cristiano Ronaldo just because I like his work ethic. Not just because he's one of the best players in the world, just his story and everything behind it and how hard he worked. He's not just talented, he goes and works every day before and after practice, I just like to emulate him and I want to become him one day.

Q. Klopp has given many youngsters chances with the first team and Ovie Ejaria was the latest as he made his debut against Derby County last week. That must be great boost for you?

A. Yeah, of course. It was great to see Ovie make his debut -- he's a great kid. Whenever a young player gets their chance to make their debut, it's always positive for all the academy play to look up and see 'if these guys can do it, then we can do it also'. It's positive and I'm really happy for him. I hope by him doing it then we can keep the story going and keep moving academy players to the first team, and hopefully I'm one of them.

Q. How would you describe your game?

A. I feel my attributes are breaking the lines and running in behind the defence and scoring goals. I'm good in front of goal and I just need to keep working on different parts of my game that need to be fixed. Hopefully I can do that on the training pitch.