Conor Bradley: NI youngster's Liverpool debut hailed by his ex-Dungannon boss

Conor Bradley battles with Norwich's Dimitris Giannoulis in Tuesday's game
Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp described Bradley's debut as "super" despite his concession of a first-half penalty

Conor Bradley's former manager at Dungannon United youths says the 18-year-old's impressive first-team debut for Liverpool in the Carabao Cup on Tuesday night came as no surprise.

Bradley did concede a penalty but otherwise produced an assured display as Jurgen Klopp's men beat Norwich 3-0.

The Tyrone teenager became the first Northern Ireland player to feature for Liverpool since Sammy Smyth in 1954.

"Conor showed tremendous character," said Dixie Robinson.

Liverpool boss Klopp was surprised to be told that the Aghyaran lad was the first Northern Ireland player to represent the Anfield giants at senior level in 67 years as he hailed Bradley's debut as "super".

"If someone had told me that I would play him sooner," joked the German.

Kelleher saves Norwich penalty

Bradley's only hitch on the night was his concession of Norwich's first-half penalty after he brought down Dimitris Giannoulis.

However, Republic of Ireland keeper Kelleher saved Christos Tzolis' spot-kick to keep Liverpool 1-0 ahead before Klopp's side put the game to bed.

Speaking to BBC Northern Ireland's Good Morning Ulster, Robinson said Bradley's recovery from what could have been a chastening moment emphasised the Tyrone teenager's maturity.

"I sent him a little text last night to say that he showed a great sense of character to recover from conceding a penalty," added Robinson.

"I'm sure for a minute he thought it was going to ruin his debut but not a bit of it.

"He showed tremendous character in the second half and went on to play the full game which was absolutely amazing for him."

Conor Bradley comes on for Stuart Dallas in the closing stages of Northern Ireland's friendly win over Malta on Sunday
Conor Bradley made his Northern Ireland debut against Malta in May and has since earned two further caps for his country

'Everyone heard Conor's name from an early age'

Robinson says Bradley's talent was immediately obvious from the first day he arrived at Dungannon United.

"Everyone involved in football had heard the name 'Conor Bradley' popping up at a very young age," added Robinson, now head of youth development at Dungannon Swifts after having a number of stints managing the Irish Premiership club.

"Right away we saw what everyone was talking about. He was a fantastic young player and he has gone on to achieve something really unbelievable."

Robinson added that Bradley's continuing progress - after making his Northern Ireland senior debut earlier this year - is motivating everyone at Dungannon Swifts and their Dungannon United youth wing.

"He's on track and I know everyone at Dungannon Swifts and Dungannon United youth are very, very proud of him.

"Conor was born in 2003 and we actually had five boys of that generation who played for Northern Ireland when they won the Victory Shield [Under-16 home nations competition].

"It's inspiring for the others to know that dreams do come true and with hard work and dedication that you can get there."

Bradley played for the St Patrick's club in Castlederg before joining Dungannon in 2016 and was also a promising gaelic footballer with the Aghyaran St Davog's club before signing for Liverpool in 2019.

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