Harvey Elliott is the “one in a million” supporter playing for his boyhood club. The midfielder was indoctrinated into Liverpool by his father, who took him to Anfield on Champions League nights. They would arrive back in Surrey in the early hours before a bleary-eyed Elliott was sent to school.
Fate drew the midfielder back to Liverpool, where he has become a mainstay of the midfield this season. Elliott played 11 times last season for the club but an appearance against Spurs on Sunday will be his 20th this time around.
An excellent loan spell at Blackburn in 2020-21 ensured he was firmly in Jürgen Klopp’s plans at the start of last season, but a dislocated ankle suffered at Leeds in September ruled him out for five months, a spell the teenager used as a learning experience. “It has made me a better and stronger person. It was probably the best time to go through it, being young and able to get through as quickly as I did,” he says.
Elliott has featured in every Premier League and Champions League match this season, a feat matched only by Alisson, Virgil van Dijk, Fabinho and Mohamed Salah. The 19-year-old is coping with the rigours of twice-weekly matches in this condensed run of fixtures before the World Cup. It is unlikely the uncapped teenager will be part of Gareth Southgate’s squad for Qatar, allowing Elliott some rest.
Elliott travelled to Kyiv to watch the 2018 final when Liverpool lost to Real Madrid with his father, who fell in love with the team of John Barnes and Ian Rush and took his son to Anfield for the first time aged three. It was this bond that helped him choose the Reds over a number of top European clubs when leaving Fulham.
“I went to the majority of games when they were down south, if I wasn’t playing for Fulham. To get to the games was hard, but if we could, we would,” he says.
“A few times we travelled up to watch Champions League games. I remember seeing the floodlights and the teams warming up, it was something I dreamed of, whether it was for Liverpool or any team professionally. It is a one in a million dream to end playing for your boyhood club.”
Sixteen points from 12 games make this Liverpool’s worst start to a Premier League season under Klopp. They have suffered back-to-back defeats against Nottingham Forest and Leeds going into their trip to north London. “There’s no point in feeling the pressure and getting yourself worked up over things,” Elliott says. “It’s what I’ve dreamed of and I’m doing it so each and every game I’m the happiest kid in the world putting on the Liverpool shirt to go out and play.”
A first Premier League goal arrived for Elliott in the 9-0 win over Bournemouth, causing his euphoric father to throw his coat 40 feet from his seat.
“It was a tough one for me because I lost a family member [his grandmother] a few days before, so it was mixed emotions scoring my first Premier League goal,” Elliott says. “My mum actually said: ‘You’re going to score today and dedicate it to her,’ so to know that someone’s up there listening and to be able to do it at Anfield in front of all the fans, there’s no better place to do it.”
It seems a long time ago that Elliott broke the record as the youngest Premier League player, making his Fulham debut aged 16 and 30 days. Since then he has made the move to Anfield, won the League Cup, Uefa Super Cup and Fifa Club World Cup, all before turning 20.
“I remember when I used to get a new pair of boots, I always used to sleep with them. I’ve grown up in a football family; my uncle plays football, my dad used to play, and now my brother plays. Wherever you go there’s a football and as a kid if there was anything laying around on the floor I used to volley it as hard as I could.
“I’ve always had that vision of being a footballer and just put everything into it along with my family and, thankfully, it’s paying off a little bit,” says Elliott, with a touch of understatement.