Eleven years after former Socceroos skipper Lucas Neill almost signed for Liverpool, his 10-year-old son Marcus has joined the Anfield Academy on a scholarship deal.
A striker, who can shoot with both feet, Neill junior Is blessed with abundant technical qualities, and the desire to follow his famous father’s footsteps into the professional ranks in England.
Previously on the books at Blackburn Rovers - the club where 96-cap Neill made his name in the Premier League - Marcus was heavily scouted by Manchester United and Everton before Liverpool stepped in.
It’s understood the youngster has joined the Reds on a two-year tenure, with the dream of breaking through at Anfield one day now unfolding in front of him.
Neill, who opted to join West Ham over Rafa Benitez’s Reds back in 2007, has been quietly nurturing Marcus from the family’s base in Lancashire.
The retired defender, now 40, has been the Scarlet Pimpernel of Australian football since being abruptly cut from Ange Postecoglou’s plans ahead of the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil.
There was no Tim Cahill-style farewell, or acknowledgment of his contribution across 17 years with the national team.
Sydney-raised Neill has since turned his back on his homeland and cut ties with former Socceroo teammates and the wider Australian football fraternity.
Instead, he has concentrated on helping nurture the football dreams of his son.
Neill’s close friend and former Australia Under-20s teammate, Mark Robertson, who is based in Manchester, believes Marcus is at the right club to deliver on his promise.
“Liverpool had a look at him for a few weeks and then took him on board,” he said.
“He has a terrific eye for goal, even from distance, and I think it’s a great place for him to continue developing. He’s reveling in the coaching there.”
According to Robertson, Neill has not glossed over what it takes to make the grade.
“He’s pointed out the pitfalls of the game as well as the great things to his son, whether it’s financial, emotional or physical,” he added.
Neill, who faced bankruptcy back in 2016, was accused of putting cash before career by the cynics after opting for the Hammers.
But Robertson, who played for the likes of Burnley, Swindon and Dundee, tells a different tale.
“Liverpool wanted him but I don’t think he was feeling the love as much as he was at West Ham at the time,” Robertson said.
“It was more about coming in as squad player there, while at West Ham he went on to be the captain.
“He got hammered over the financials but it wasn’t about money.”
Robertson’s own son, 15-year-old midfielder Alexander, is on books at Manchester City, and already a youth international with England. He’s also eligible for Peru, through his mother, Australia and Scotland.
“Lucas and I are trying to guide and lead the boys but then they come home and jump on the X-Box or something and you realise they are just kids,” he said.
“We talk to them like former pros because we know how tough it is to make it.”