Conor Coady Off Script: Why I had to leave Liverpool

Liverpool-born defender is now skipper of high-flying Wolves

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Conor Coady talks about making his Liverpool debut, playing with Jamie Carragher, and dreaming about playing for England

In our latest episode from the Off Script series, Wolverhampton Wanderers captain Conor Coady sits down with Sky Sports' Jamie Carragher and Geoff Shreeves for a hugely entertaining and wide-ranging interview.

They discuss Coady and Carragher's time together at Liverpool and why Coady had to leave; his career transformation since teaming up with Nuno Espirito Santo at Molineux; his greatest fear and just how good Adama Traore is; his England ambitions, as well as VAR, own goals and Tiger King!

I'm always thinking I hope this isn't the window where we lose a Ruben, a Joao, a Jota or an Adama.
Conor Coady

Why did you leave Liverpool after nine years at Anfield?

Image: Coady made just one senior appearance for Liverpool

"Brendan Rodgers was good to me when I was young. I had a season training with the first team at Melwood, and learning off them, that was big for me, but I always knew it was tough. I was always realistic, I was learning a lot off the first team, how to play and do things.

"I knew at some point I'd have to come away from Liverpool to really experience being a first-team player. It was the best decision I ever made, and Brendan Rodgers was great for that; he pushed that to send me on loan and try to improve my game.

LIVERPOOL IN KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA - JULY 16 2011: (L-R back row) Jack Robinson, Raul Meireles, Conor Coady, Brad Jones, Daniel Agger and Andy Carroll, (L-R front row) Jay Spearing, Joe Cole, Jamie Carragher, Charlie Adam and John Flanagan of Liverpool line up for a team photograph before the pre-season friendly match between Malaysia and Liverpool at the Bukit Jalil National Stadium on July 16, 2011 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. (Photo by Stanley Chou/Getty Images)
Image: Coady (back row, third from the left) left Liverpool in the summer of 2014

"Even being on loan at Sheffield United (in 2013-14), I loved the season and it was a great club for me to go to, coming back I still knew it was going to be tough. Liverpool were always getting better, they were always improving, and the players in my position were ridiculous. But I just wanted to play football. I knew where I was at, the type of level I was at, but I just wanted to be part of a first team, playing in games which meant something, playing against men."

How big a role has Nuno played in Wolves' recent success?

Nuno Espirito Santo, (R) the Wolverhampton Wanderers manager talks to his captain Conor Coady during the pre-season friendly match between Stoke City and Wolverhampton Wanderers at the Bet365 Stadium on July 25, 2018 in Stoke on Trent, England.
Image: Coady has hailed Nuno's influence at Wolves

"The biggest, really. Since he's come in, he's been fantastic with everybody, he came in with a way of playing. That's been the biggest thing with him. He's never ever changed, there are bits inside the formation and system that changed, in terms of different days we might be playing against different players and teams, but we'll always play the same way.

"Some players might have a little change in their role, a two in midfield, a three up front or whatever, but our tasks will never change on the pitch, and that's what he speaks about the most, our tasks he sets us in the week.

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"That's the biggest thing I think, we've stuck to our principles even from the Championship to come up to the Premier League. He's been fantastic, he's changed the whole direction and dynamic of the club."

What's your VAR verdict after its Premier League debut?

Conor Coady and Mike Dean talk at half-time after a Wolves goal was disallowed for offside via VAR
Image: Coady is not a fan of VAR

"Everyone's vocal about it, it's tough. I can't tell you how tough it is when you're playing and a decision comes in, it's so hard to get your head around.

"VAR is here to stay, I look back on some of the interviews I've done after games and thought I shouldn't have said that or done that, and looked a bit stupid there, but it's so hard when the emotion is so high. The amount you want to win a Premier League game, the fire in your belly, if you lose it by two millimetres, it's so hard to get your head round. But it's here to stay."

Jamie and you have scored an OG or two over the years?!

Carragher own goal
Image: Carragher scores a spectacular own goal against Man Utd at Anfield

"Is it four or five I got last season (he actually scored three)? People are stitching me up though, there was one last season that was going in and it deflected off me and went in the corner. I'm not having that, they're not own goals are they?

"Last season I got four or five or something, but half of them were deflections. You can't call them own goals! I'm just trying to block it and you look on the telly and they're saying own goal! There was one against Burnley that I think, when I'm sliding in, I slid it into my own goal. It wasn't good."

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Coady insists the players are keen to help during the coronavirus pandemic, and admits he felt frustrated at the public criticism aimed at them during the crisis

Is there a fear Wolves may lose their best players?

Wolves Ruben Neves has downplayed the side's Champions League qualification chances
Image: Coady is desperate to keep hold of players like Neves at Wolves

"I'm looking at the players around me, I'm not looking at myself, but the players around me I'm thinking - I hope this isn't the window. I'll be the same when the next window comes, whenever that is.

"Honestly, the satisfaction I get playing for Wolves, the players I'm playing with, I consider myself lucky because I've been there for a few years, and to see the players who have come through the door in the last few years is fantastic.

"I'm always thinking I hope this isn't the window where we lose a Ruben [Neves], a Joao [Moutinho], a [Diogo] Jota or an Adama [Traore]. The way the club is at the moment, and the players and characters we've got in the dressing room, I wouldn't change it for the world. So every window I think I hope this isn't the one."

Just how good - and strong - is Adama Traore?

Adama Traore celebrates scoring for Wolves against Manchester City
Image: Coady has praised the form of Traore at Molineux

"He could've played NFL, he got offered when he was younger. He doesn't do any gym on his arms or his upper body. It's all power work on his legs to make him more powerful and explosive. He's rapid, he's some player.

"It's credit to him, and how proud he can be of himself, he's been fantastic for the team, you can see in his end product and the way he tracks back and defends properly and listens to the manager's ideas and takes it on board. It's credit to how hard he works, he's one of the most hard-working players I've seen and it's brilliant to have him at the club."

Do you have ambitions to play for England?

England Under-20s
Image: Coady represented England at U20 level under Peter Taylor

"It's always in your head, how amazing it would be to play for your country. It's something you think about and dream about, it's the pinnacle of any Englishman's career.

"Do I think about ever really getting into the squad? No, I'm quite realistic of where I am and I just focus on the situation I'm in. If I start thinking about certain things that aren't here, I'll be disappointed if they don't come. So I make sure I don't, and focus on Wolves and getting better, and as long as I'm doing that, that's all I'm happy about.

"Do I think about it, do I think it would be amazing? Of course, it's the pinnacle of any Englishman's career, but I would never put pressure on myself to say, 'I need to start playing well here because the national team manager's here.' Because if I don't get in I'll be disappointed. It's not something I think about often really."

What have you been binge-watching while isolating?

Conor Coady
Image: Coady has been finding ways to keep himself entertained during isolation

"I watched The Stranger the other day. It's quite a good one, we've never watched Peaky Blinders, but we've started that and we're on episode three. We can only get a couple in when the kids go to bed.

"[Tiger King?] Loads of people have spoken about it! I've had people send me pictures of the faces next to the tigers."

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Coady and Soccer AM duo Fenners and Tubes all take part in the #HomeTopBinChallenge
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