First Team

Ben Woodburn completes loan move

23rd August 2021

Robbie Neilson continues to strengthen his high-flying squad with the capture of attacking midfielder Ben Woodburn on loan from Liverpool.

The Welsh international joins the Jambos on a season-long loan deal from Anfield, subject to international clearance.

21-year-old Ben, Liverpool’s youngest ever goalscorer, makes the move to Tynecastle Park and will train with his new teammates this week as he bids to stake a claim for a spot in Saturday’s squad for the trip to Dundee United.

Ben joined Liverpool’s academy at U7s and progressed through the youth ranks, being named academy player of the season in 2016/17.

It was that campaign that saw him make a breakthrough into the first team. Aged 17, he made his senior debut on November 26th in a 2-0 win over Sunderland.

Three days later he created history by scoring in the Reds’ 2-0 EFL Cup quarter-final victory against Leeds United, becoming Liverpool’s youngest ever goalscorer at 17 years and 45 days and beating Michael Owen’s record.

It didn’t take long for international recognition to come. Eligible for both Wales and England, then manager Chris Coleman called Ben up to the Dragons’ squad for a World Cup qualifying match against Republic of Ireland. An unused substitute for that game, he would make an instant impact in his debut a few months later, scoring a long-range winner in a World Cup qualifying match at home to Austria.

His performances earned him a nomination for the European Golden Boy awards, given by sports journalists to players aged 21 and under who have been most impressive in a calendar year, however, he would lose out to winner Kylian Mbappe.

The following season saw another Golden Boy nomination and the captaincy for Liverpool U19s UEFA Youth League campaign. The accolades kept stacking up after being named BBC Wales’ Young Sportsman of the Year.

A series of loan spells were next as Ben went out to gain more first team experience at Sheffield United, Oxford United and Blackpool, and he now begins the next chapter of his career in Gorgie.

Speaking to the Official Hearts Website, manager Robbie Neilson said: “I’m really pleased that we’ve got this one over the line. Ben is a top class player with Premier League and international experience and he was really eager to join us.

“He’s an exciting player, one who I think will fit really well into our style of play. He’s quick, direct and can bring us different options in the final third.

“I’m looking forward to working with him and I hope that he will be a success here at Hearts.”

Sporting Director Joe Savage said: “Everyone is delighted to get Ben on board for the season, and I’d like to thank Liverpool for their help in getting this deal done.

“Ben’s development has been in an environment where he was surrounded by world-class football players, so to have him here at Hearts is very exciting.

“We’ve always said we wanted to bring in quality over quantity and I think this signing is another example of that.

“I’m looking forward to seeing what Ben can do in a maroon shirt and I hope that the fans enjoy watching him play.”