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Big interview: Liverpool old boy Conor Coady has heart of gold for Wolves

He grew up as a staunch Liverpool fan and represented the club for almost a decade.

Conor Coady will face his former club tomorrow
Conor Coady will face his former club tomorrow

But there's only one team Conor Coady wants to win tomorrow night – and the same goes for his Liverpool-supporting family too.

Coady was brought up in a red household and inspired by Liverpool legends Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher, both as a fan and then as an academy player learning his trade at Kirkby.

However since joining Wolves in 2015, a year after leaving his beloved Reds in search of first-team football, Coady's blood has turned a lighter shade to old gold.

So much so that his two young sons are being raised as Wolves fans too.

"My two boys don’t really know much about Liverpool!" Coady told the Express & Star.

"They’ve got Wolves kits and come to all the games. They sing the songs, it’s great.

"My boys are obsessed with Ruben Neves, they sing his song and all kinds. Henri my eldest, aged three, he loves it."

It's clear that family plays a huge role in Coady's life. His wife Amie and sons Henri and Freddie (they have a third boy on the way soon) are his getaway from football – and his parents Gail and Andy have been a big influence on his career.

"My mum and dad, since I was young, they took me everywhere, my dad comes to every game and my uncle too," Coady said.

"My wife and two kids – and one more on the way – they’re exactly the same.

"It's a red household I was brought up in, everyone's a Liverpool fan.

"Well, my uncle comes to every single Wolves game and he’s the only blue in our family! He gets stick left, right and centre."

But Coady is quick to point out who they'll all be supporting when Wolves face unbeaten Liverpool tomorrow.

"Wolves! All day long. My family follow me everywhere. They love what this football club has done since I’ve been here, they’re big Wolves fans."

Coady joined Liverpool's academy aged 12 in 2005 and within a few years was one of the shining lights alongside Raheem Sterling, Jon Flanagan and Andre Wisdom in his age group.

He was a leader from an early age and captained England to winning the Euro Under-17 Championship in 2010.

Coady won the European Under-17 Championship with England

At Liverpool he had the opportunity to learn from some of the very best.

"It was always Gerrard and Carragher for me," he said of his early influences. "Then Fernando Torres at his prime, Luis Suarez when he got a bit older.

"Gerrard and Carragher in particular were big influences on me, 100 per cent. I was lucky enough to train with them and watch them and follow them.

"They never missed a training session or shirked anything.

"It’s important you learn off those people as much as possible. Gerrard was more of a match-winner. Carragher, how he spoke and organised things around the training ground, it was great for me to learn from.

"They’d speak to you when they thought you could improve, saying I could do this or that better. It was the same with all the young lads.

In pre-season action for Liverpool alongside Charlie Adam and Andy Carroll

"Jon Flanagan was coming through, Raheem as well, I speak to Jon now and again and Andre Wisdom too.

"The club helped me improve as a player and a person.

"It was a good age group, we came through at a good time, but not many made it through to the first team, which shows how hard it was."

Coady made his Liverpool debut in 2012 alongside his hero Carragher in a Europa League game against Anzhi Makhachkala under Brendan Rodgers. Flanagan and Wisdom also played.

However, a brief substitute appearance in a 3-1 Premier League win at Fulham was to be his only other appearance for the Reds.

In 2014, after a successful loan spell at League One side Sheffield United during which Coady played 50 times including in an FA Cup semi final, the time came to leave Liverpool.

Scoring for Sheffield United during a successful loan spell in 2013/14

A £500,000 move to Huddersfield was an easy decision to make for the 21-year-old Coady.

"I knew where I was at and how tough it would be to get into Liverpool’s team – I had Gerrard, Jordan Henderson, Joe Allen and Lucas Leiva ahead of me," he said.

"I loved my time at Sheffield United playing week in, week out and I didn’t want to go back to playing under-23s football.

"I had a conversation with Brendan Rodgers who was great with me, he said they’d only send me to a club where they thought I’d improve and get better.

"Luckily I did that with Huddersfield.

"It wasn’t a difficult decision to leave. That’s nothing against Liverpool. I grew up wanting to be a footballer – when I was young I wanted it to be for Liverpool, but after a few years I became more realistic."

Coady's form at Huddersfield earned him a move to Wolves under Kenny Jackett in 2015.

And the following season he finally had the chance to make his first ever senior appearance at Anfield – playing for Wolves in what would turn out to be an unforgettable FA Cup tie.

Celebrating the 2-1 FA Cup win at Anfield in January 2017

"It was a special day. I hardly slept the night before, I was up at 6am sat in the bath.

"I'd never played at Anfield in a first-team game but I'm a competitive guy and player so I never just wanted to enjoy the day.

"It was special hearing You'll Never Walk Alone and playing in front of the Kop, etc, but as soon as that whistle went it was game time.

"We were in the changing room before the game and I remember their team coming through, everyone was reading it stuck up on the wall. You could see a sense of shoulders coming out and 'we can do this'.

"They'd named a lot of young players in their side and I really thought we could do it.

"We had Helder Costa flying at the time, Andi Weimann scored and did well.

"I knew it would be a good day but I wanted to win. It didn’t matter that I support them, I wanted to win for Wolves.

"Having gone through that experience it 100 per cent takes a bit away from Friday's game as an emotional occasion, in a good way. I've played Liverpool before and beaten them.

"We want to do it again now."

Liverpool fielded a weakened side that day, but tomorrow Coady, now an established Premier League centre half whose form has been integral to Wolves' brilliant start to the season, is likely to face one of the most feared strike-forces in European football in Messrs Salah, Firmino and Mane.

"They’re frightening with the pace they’ve got and the movement they have, the way they play," Coady said.

"Firmino’s now dropping in to get the ball, they’ve got all different ways of playing.

"But we need to make sure we’re ready.

"We’ve got to be focused on our jobs for 95 minutes – if you switch off they’ll punish you.

"You get those challenges every week in this division."

To that end, who is Coady's toughest opponent so far?

"I think Sergio Aguero, I’ve played against him a couple of times now, he’s always tough.

Coady classes Aguero as his toughest opponent (© AMA SPORTS PHOTO AGENCY)

"He always starts behind you, he’s a very clever footballer.

"The way he does things, the way he thinks about the game, he’ll always look one way and run the other and he’s always thinking about what you’re doing too."

When it's pointed out Aguero failed to score in either game against Coady, he replies: "It’s tough though! I get off the pitch at the end of it knackered!"

After holding Manchester City, Manchester United and Arsenal to draws – and beating Chelsea earlier this month – Wolves have an impressive pedigree against the Premier League big boys so far this season.

Coady believes Nuno Espirito Santo's management style plays a key part in them approaching every game the same way, no matter who the opponent is.

"The way he explains things, you don’t really have to ask questions.

Nuno converted Coady to a centre-half and has made him skipper this season (© AMA SPORTS PHOTO AGENCY)

“I’ve not been involved in something like that. It becomes easy in that way, he explains something and it just makes sense.

“It all comes from him. It’s hard to explain. The way he explains and talks to you, you can picture what he wants to happen.

"He speaks at great length in terms of playing our way and keeping our identity.

“We won’t change no matter who we’re playing. We’ll have no fear and we’ll play to win the game.

“Liverpool have got a brilliant team but we’ll be ready for them. The whole club is high on confidence, supporters, players, everyone.

“We’ll be fearless."

One thing's for sure, no one would love a Wolves win more than the Coadys.

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