Jermaine McGillvary has dreamt of running out at Anfield ever since watching his influential uncles idolise John Barnes.
A football fan growing up, McGillvary followed his family loyalties to support Liverpool.
Now the prolific winger will step out in front of the Kop for England rugby league as they look to complete a series win over New Zealand.
McGillvary said: “I’ve always been a Liverpool fan, it’s all we knew growing up.
“All my uncles supported Liverpool and I think it was the John Barnes thing, with him being such a high-profile black player while they were young men growing up.
“They always used to watch because of John Barnes and I started watching with them naturally.
“For all my family, he was a bit of a role model – I idolised them and did whatever they did, and they loved John Barnes.
“I’ve always stuck with Liverpool since then – although since I’ve supported them they’ve not had much luck.
“When I started watching, Barnes was coming to the back end, so Steven Gerrard was my big hero who I followed growing up.
“The impact he had on the club, and people in general, made him the pinnacle of professional football.”
This afternoon McGillvary will step onto the same pitch as Barnes and Gerrard as England look to back up last weekend’s gritty 18-16 win in Hull.
The 30-year-old believes a decisive second victory on Merseyside can help give the World Cup finalists the credit they deserve.
He said: “The win last week has put us in the driving seat for the series, but the performance showed the two teams are closely matched.
“Australia and New Zealand are full of players from the NRL, and nobody over here in Super League, so the NRL is seen as the best in the world.
“Rightly so – and for us to win a series against a team of NRL superstars will send a big statement out that while people always see the negatives in Super League, there is a lot of quality.
“It’ll hopefully help the competition explode on a positive note.
“All we want to do as players is grow the game – I don’t think we get enough credit in this country for what we do.
“Let’s get our players put on a pedestal like the NRL superstars – imagine that.
“New Zealand beat Australia recently, they’re an outstanding team, and we’ve got 10 or 11 players missing from the World Cup yet we still beat them.
“There are players who haven’t even made the squad now that could be superstars.
“Look at Oliver Gildart – he wasn’t in the original team and only got in through injuries, but he looked like a star out there last week.
“He’s a class act and there are loads like him.
“I don’t think us as English people big our competition and our game up enough.
“We’re always trying to compare it to Australia – but let’s celebrate what we’re good at.”
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