Former Liverpool youth team player Tom Brewitt has admitted he once injured a team-mate on purpose in a bid to win a first-team place.
During the 2015-16 season – Jurgen Klopp’s first at Anfield – several of Liverpool’s centre-backs were injured before an FA Cup tie against Exeter.
Brewitt believed it was “written in the stars” for him to make his debut but faced competition from Daniel Cleary.
“Whatever it took to do it, I was going to do it,” said Brewitt, 23.
Speaking to the Football Journeys Podcast, the Liverpool academy product – who was released by Morecambe in the summer – added: “If that meant hurting someone or ruining a relationship I had, I was going to do it.
“I was just desperate to play for Liverpool and that’s all I wanted to do.”
Brewitt, who captained the Reds in the FA Youth Cup, said he got on well with Cleary, who now plays for Dundalk, but thinks he “ended the relationship”.
He said he did not know Klopp was planning to play Jose Enrique at centre-back and recall Tiago Illori from his loan at Aston Villa for the January tie.
“I took the decision, it was me or him, so I went after him in training,” Brewitt said. “Before Christmas and the time between Christmas and New Year, I put myself next to him in possession games, I put myself next to him in games, and I just kicked him.
“I wasn’t trying to hurt him badly but I was trying to hurt him enough so he was out the way and I would play.
“It was about a week before the Exeter game and I took a bit of a heavy touch in a seven-a-side and he’s come in to tackle me.
“I waited a split second too long and absolutely topped him, went over the ball, it was a bad tackle – I knew it was a bad tackle, I did it on purpose and I’m not incredibly proud of it.
“I’m not ashamed of it, either, because in my head it was me or him and I was choosing me.”
He added: “There was a bit of a scuffle after it and I think he got sent in for his reaction, rightly so as his reaction was probably bang on, and I finished off the session.
“He was on crutches for the next two weeks, so it was sort of like, not mission accomplished because I think that’s a bit harsh as I didn’t want to hurt him, I just needed him out the way for this game.”
Brewitt never made it to the Exeter game, suffering a concussion after banging his eye against a team-mate’s back while going up for a header four days before.
In response to the podcast, Cleary tweeted: “Blowing out someone else’s candle doesn’t make yours shine any brighter comes to mind.
“Lucky to walk away from that tackle with my leg in one piece.”