Four years ago, English defender Nat Phillips was on the verge of flying to the United States to play for Charlotte.
After coming through the ranks at Bolton Wanderers, another club in the UK where his father was the director of the academy, Phillips was introduced as part of Charlotte's 2016 recruiting class.
“Nathaniel is a very dominant defender,” Charlotte head coach Kevin Langan said at the time. “He is technically clean and has a great range of passing. He displays a great mindset to compete and improve.”
A last-minute trial at Liverpool threw that plan off track.
Phillips eventually signed with the club on the day that he had previously been scheduled to fly out to the United States to begin his college career.
After signing with Liverpool, he's still been a peripheral figure, spending the 2019-20 season on loan in Germany with Stuttgart.
This past Saturday, Phillips started for Liverpool in place of Virgil Van Dijk, who is out for the bulk of the season with a knee injury. Phillips helped Liverpool pick up a 2-1 win against West Ham.
"He is a brilliant guy, smart guy, intelligent - everything," his head coach Jurgen Klopp said after the game. "I was not easy on the eye, he is not easy on the eye, both messy, but who cares? In the air he is a monster, loves having challenges on the pitch and today he was incredible."