As Joe Gomez maps out the journey that culminated in his move to Liverpool in the summer of 2015, there is one theme that continually crops up: the unwavering support of his family.
The south London native had a choice to make, but did so on his own terms, largely thanks to parents whose only concern was the happiness of their son, as he explains in the latest episode of #LFCWORLD.
He said: “That was a massive decision for me and my family. But my parents never pressured me in any way, they just wanted me to enjoy playing football.
“Nowadays, a lot of young kids are getting moved and being put into houses with their families and it’s a lot of pressure for someone so young.
“My mum and dad were like, ‘We just want you to play football [and] when the time is right, when you feel like for your development you want to move on, then you can do that’.”
When a departure from Charlton Athletic became inevitable, Gomez showed maturity beyond his tender years in actively seeking the best option for his development, rather than simply jumping at the first Premier League opportunity that arose.
Such a level-headed approach is no doubt a legacy of his parents’ work in easing the pressure on their son, ensuring his sole focus was becoming the best footballer he could.
“When I was 15/16, being at a smaller club you start getting a bit of interest, but my dad and the people who look after me said, ‘We’ll keep that away from you’,” he continued.
“I didn’t really know anything that was going on behind the scenes, I knew there were some clubs that were interested but I didn’t really take note of it.
“In my head, I always wanted to play first-team football, I knew it was crucial that I got that experience before I tried to make a move. That was one thing that my dad always said to me, ‘It’s not about [joining] the biggest team.’
“Obviously, Liverpool’s a massive club, but [it was about] what team’s going to be the best for my development, and that’s what I found with Liverpool.
“I made sure I wasn’t too eager and that I was open to all options and my parents just made sure I was happy with the decision and we went for it.”
Of course, Joe hasn’t always agreed with both of his parents on what might be best for him, as the story of his first steps into professional football at the age of 10 attests.
“I played Sunday League for quite a few years and then got scouted by Charlton. You [join on] a six-week trial basis and I didn’t get in the first time,” he explained.
“I remember that hitting me quite hard, obviously I was very young.
“I went away for two or three months and I remember my mum saying she didn’t want me to go back [when] a few months later they called me back to go on trial again!”
But Gomez’s decision-making has yet to let him down, it seems.
Despite the setbacks he has faced, the teenager has no regrets over joining a club where the atmosphere is – rather fittingly – like ‘a big family’.
“It’s way more tight knit than I expected and the environment around Melwood is so much more positive than I thought it was going to be,” he said.
“Being injured, there are a lot of tough times, [but] going into Melwood with the staff around the training ground, it makes it so much easier to just get on with your work.
“The whole place – the city, the people, the fans – everyone is just so welcoming. It’s like a big family. Everyone wants you to do well.”