It’s fair to say that, in his first few weeks as Liverpool manager, Brendan Rodgers made full use of the depth of his squad by giving every player a chance in the 2012/13 season’s early competitive fixtures. Perhaps that wasn’t wholly surprising given that four of the Irishman’s first six competitive games were in the qualifying rounds of the Europa League against FC Gomel and Hearts. Rodgers saw those fixtures as the perfect opportunity to throw in many of Liverpool’s young players and allow them to audition for further first-team openings.
One such beneficiary was striker Adam Morgan, who also travelled with the first team on their pre-season tour to the United States. The teenager saw plenty of game time on Stateside and he scored in the win over Toronto FC, having already earned fulsome praise from Reds legend Robbie Fowler for his Academy performances. His competitive debut was brief, appearing as a late substitute in the 1-0 away win against Hearts in the final Europa League qualifying round, and he was selected to start in the return fixture at Anfield. He briefly thought he had scored in that 2-2 draw, only for the goal to be chalked off as the ball had gone out of play in the build-up.
Liverpool’s passage to the group stage opened the door for further opportunities for the team’s younger players, many of whom were selected in the Europa League squad. Morgan, however, still had to feed off crumbs. He was brought to Switzerland for the crazy 5-3 win over Young Boys but did not make the matchday squad. Indeed, his only appearance in the group stage was the hour he played in the 0-1 defeat to Anzhi Makhachkala in Russia. With game time proving to be sparse, Morgan was loaned to Rotherham for the second half of the 2012/13 season. The Millers were a League Two outfit at the time, but the on-loan youngster still made just two appearances as they were eventually promoted.
Morgan was moved out on loan again for the bulk of the 2013/14 campaign, joining a Yeovil side featuring in its one and only Championship season. While first team appearances were sporadic at Huish Park, he still did enough to convince the Glovers to sign him permanently, although he fell out with manager Gary Johnson at the start of the 2014/15 season and was sent on loan to St Johnstone, where things did not get any better for the striker. He only played five games for the Scottish side and a red card in a development match saw him being left out in the cold. Upon returning to Yeovil, Johnson was no nearer to picking him. He scored a decisive last-minute penalty in a rare appearance in February 2015 but, even before his 21st birthday, Morgan’s professional career was in danger of fizzling out prematurely.
Indeed, he would soon end up dropping to the semi-pro ranks during a tumultuous 18-month period when he was registered by no fewer than five clubs. His Yeovil nightmare ended with a move to Accrington Stanley in League Two but, after just half a season there, he went to Hemel Hempstead Town in the National League North in January 2016. Just two months later he was on the move again, dropping another rung to the seventh tier with Colwyn Bay, a stint that lasted for all of one month following Morgan’s sacking for failing to turn up to a match.
Just as the football scrapheap seemed to be calling once and for all, resuscitation arrived in the form of Curzon Ashton. His heroics in the FA Cup for the sixth tier club propelled Morgan back into the public consciousness, not least his wonder strike as part of a hat-trick in a 4-3 defeat to AFC Wimbledon, who scored all their goals in a logic-defying final 10 minutes. Despite this cruel blow for Curzon Ashton, the match was a personal triumph for Morgan, who earned a move to FC Halifax Town and helped them to promotion to the National League for this season. Last month, the one-time Liverpool Academy prospect made a surprise move to Sligo Rovers in the League of Ireland and he is set to make his competitive debut for the Bit O’ Red tonight in their league opener against Limerick (Ireland’s season runs in a calendar year format).
Morgan doesn’t turn 24 until April, but Sligo is already the 10th club of his career, one which began as a team-mate of Steven Gerrard, Jamie Carragher and Luis Suarez at Liverpool. His career path might not have panned out as he would have liked, but at least he has found his way back to a top tier league, albeit one of League One quality (a comparison frequently made by players to have sampled both those divisions). Morgan is certainly in a better place now than he had been this time two years ago and one hopes that he has learned from the misjudgments that so nearly put him out of the sport.