“Don’t dream your life, live your dream.”
Wise words from a wise man, but arguably not those which you would expect to come from the lips of a teenager. Well, not every teenager is as gifted as Harvey Elliott.
The Anfield prospect has taken the football world by storm and, after a string of starring performances beyond his fledgling years – not least his Champions League debut aged just 18 last month - it’s perhaps unsurprising that he has now been tipped for a stellar future in the game.
Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp is a big fan, plenty of excited football pundits have raved about the midfielder’s potential and, arguably more encouragingly, England boss Gareth Southgate is also believed to be close to offering the player an international platform.
The rise from gifted schoolboy to a world-class prospect has been nothing short of incredible. Elliott is, in his own words, living his own “dream”. But where did it all start for one of England’s brightest prospects?
Well, just over three and a half years ago Elliott was at school – Coombe Boys School in New Malden, London (to be precise), balancing his budding football career with his studies. Like any ‘regular’ teenager, he had homework to complete and was studying hard for exams.
But football has always been the Anfield ace’s passion over academic studies. And who can blame him? At his first club QPR, Elliott showed from an early age he had potential. And then when he signed for Fulham’s Under-18 Academy in 2018, his progress reached another level.
At 15 years and 174 days he became The Cottagers’ youngest ever first-team player when his made debut in a EFL Cup third round away clash with Millwall.
Less than a year later Elliott made his Premier League debut for the South West London outfit against Wolves. In doing so he became the youngest ever Premier League player at 16 years and 30 days.
It wasn’t long before Liverpool came calling, beating an array of interested clubs to secure his signature. Fulham were compensated £1.5million for the deal, plus an additional £2.8million in performance bonuses. And although those bonuses might turn out to be very profitable for Fulham, it is Liverpool who have really cashed in.
Having secured Elliott on an extended deal until 2026, they now have a player with the world at his feet. In Klopp he’s got a great manager to help him get even better and the prospect of a player who, at just 18, who has his best years ahead of him. Elliott is the real deal and Klopp knows it. He surprised many supporters when he gave the attack-minded star the chance to shine away to Inter Milan.
The teenager didn’t disappoint on a memorable night which saw the Reds triumph 2-0 at the Giuseppe Meazza stadium.
“Incredibly proud to have made my @championsleague debut in such a historic European stadium, topped off with an incredible performance and result from all the lads!” reflected Elliott on social media after Liverpool’s victory.
And there are likely to be many more memorable nights for Elliott if he can continue on his upward trajectory to being one of football’s best midfielders. A lofty ask, of course, but the platform is there for the young gun to really establish himself.
Many gifted stars have fallen disappointingly short of their potential. But so far Elliott has embraced the pressure of playing at the top level – and he remains level-headed in his quest to scale greater heights in the game. And with an international call-up now rumoured to be on the cards, it’s going to be great to see how he embraces the next chapter in his career.
Blackburn Rovers boss Tony Mowbray jumped at the chance to sign Elliott on loan last season. The midfielder dazzled for the Championship club, scoring seven goals and weighing in with 11 assists as he got some much-needed first-team football under his belt at Ewood Park.
His partnership with striker Adam Armstrong was the stuff of dreams. His assists – as well as his goals – make him an enviable asset for any team. And Mowbray has no doubts Liverpool’s “teenage terror” has the makings of something special.
“You can feel the quality of the kid and it’s amazing to think he’s so young,” offered Mowbray, a coach who has been around long enough, respectively, to know talent when he sees it.
“We think he’s got amazing feeling in his feet, some of the deliveries from his set plays are begging to be headed in.
“Harvey brings a bit of everything, his quality, weight of pass, decision making, when to bring it back, when to go forward.
“He’s a humble lad. He was a really refreshing, nice lad to work with. He asked questions, he thinks football, he understands football.”
German coach Klopp has stressed the importance of community at Anfield. He once said: “There is the famous proverb: ‘It takes a village to raise a child’. And that applies also in a healthy football environment and we certainly have it at LFC. It is a community of people which makes this team what it is.
“The whole is greater than the sum of our parts and it’s nice to have relevant examples to remind ourselves of that.”
Elliott is very much part of that community - very much the ‘child’ of the star-studded squad -and has embraced the demanding work ethic which has helped re-establish Liverpool as a force on the world's stage.
Liverpool legend Jamie Carragher certainly has no doubts Elliott could be one of the club’s greats.
“It makes you think Liverpool have got a special player, not just a good player,” said Carragher.
“You think of how young he is and you think of the players we have had at that age that were really special: Michael Owen, Robbie Fowler, Raheem Sterling, you've seen Trent [Alexander-Arnold] come through at that age.
“Sometimes you see someone that's just special.
“It'll be really interesting to see how Jurgen Klopp fits him in and gets him enough games between now and the end of the season and also whether that will have an impact on Liverpool's business in the summer.”
“Maybe he'll be more creative or maybe he'll get less goals, who knows, but he's definitely a special player and, in the next 18 months, he'll have to find a position for him in the team because players of that quality have to play.”
Not a bad problem to have when you have potential Anfield royalty on your hands.