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red army Ex-Irish League player Julian Ward to become Liverpool’s new sporting director

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Julian Ward

Julian Ward

Julian Ward

Liverpool’s new sporting director is a name many Irish League fans will be familiar with.

Julian Ward, who will leave his role of assistant sporting director for the promotion, has fond memories of battling for Larne and Lisburn Distillery during his playing career.

As Michael Edwards steps aside at the end of the season, Ward will graduate to Liverpool’s Holy Trinity: the men ultimately responsible for the club’s on-pitch success and football operations.

He joins manager Jurgen Klopp and Fenway Sports Group president Mike Gordon in making decisions that drive the club: from recruitment to infrastructure and tactical evolution.

Well-known and liked in transfer circles having operated across Europe and South America, the 40-year-old was also a popular player when his career continued in Northern Ireland while he attended the University of Ulster at Jordanstown in 2005.

“I had been playing at Morecombe, but before I came to Northern Ireland I was on the semi-pro scene with the likes of Southport and Hyde United,” he recalled.

“I was 24 when I decided to do a PhD at Jordanstown, so I moved over to come to the University of Ulster. The course began in September 2005 and by chance, I knew Conor Lynch from the University, who was at Larne at the time.”

The Aintree-born midfielder was encouraged to join the Invermen by current Northern Ireland women’s boss Kenny Shiels during the club’s stint in the Premiership.

He lined up alongside players such as frontmen Gary McCutcheon and Mark Dickson as well as former Dungannon Swifts boss, Kris Lindsay.

Ward, who also played under Jim Hagan at Larne, moved onto Paul Kirk’s Lisburn Distillery.

“Some of my best experiences in football have come from playing in the Irish League,” he recalled.

Having studied Sports Science at John Moores University, he became a performance analyst for the Football Association in 2001 before joining the industry-changing ProZone a year later.

A fluent Portuguese speaker, he lived in Lisbon where he headed up analysis and technical scouting for Portugal’s Football Federation.

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Manchester City poached him to be their South American scouting strategist; mining their key region of talent identification between 2010 and 2012.

Liverpool then swooped, putting Ward in charge of scouting in Spain and Portugal. In 2015, he become head of loan pathways and football partnerships where he earned the respect of the likes of Rangers manager Steven Gerard — set for Aston Villa — whom he had to regularly liaise with.

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