• Premier League

Cafu backs Flanagan to become England great

ESPN staff
May 17, 2014
Cafu has backed Jon Flanagan to become an England great © Getty Images

Former Brazil full-back Cafu says he sees shades of his own ability in Liverpool defender Jon Flanagan.

The 43-year-old travelled from his native Brazil to Anfield last weekend to witness Flanagan, dubbed the "Scouse Cafu" by some of the club's fans, in action during their final-day Premier League victory against Newcastle.

"He has speed, strength and determination. He's an athlete who goes after it and never gives it up," Cafu told LFCTV. "That's exactly what I used to do; there were no missing chances for me, no tiredness and no being dejected.

"I see that style in him too. I hope he continues that way and achieves as many trophies as I did."

Flanagan broke into Liverpool's first team in April 2011, but struggled for form the following season, leading to a long spell out of the team.

His troubles were highlighted during the 2012 documentary Being: Liverpool, in which Rodgers publicly reined in Flanagan's attacking instincts with the ironic put-down: "Stay behind the ball. You're not the one bombing on for fun, Cafu."

However, former AC Milan and Roma defender Cafu admitted he watched Flanagan, who was named as a standby for Roy Hodgson's World Cup squad this summer, from afar on numerous occasions and has backed the 21-year-old to become an England great.

"I first started hearing about him by watching Premier League matches and observing his performance along with other players," Cafu said.

"I then started seeing some news saying he is the 'Red Cafu'. So there's nothing better than coming to the city and taking a picture with my successor.

"He is a good player; still young and developing, but already gaining recognition at Liverpool and he might even have an opportunity with the English national team. He'll be a great English player in the future."

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