Liverpool’s season may not have gone to plan so far, but the form of teenager Harvey Elliott has given them something to cheer about.
Elliott, 19, has started eight of Liverpool’s 10 matches in all competitions this season, including both Champions League games against Napoli and Ajax.
Manager Jurgen Klopp described him as a “special player” after the 2-1 win over Newcastle in August and could hand him another start against Rangers on Tuesday.
But Elliott’s place in the Liverpool team alongside stars such as Mohamed Salah and Virgil van Dijk comes as no surprise to his former QPR academy coach Scott Chickelday.
“These are exciting times for Liverpool fans,” Chickelday told BBC Sport.
“He’s got some fantastic players in front of him and he’s learning them in training. If he wants to earn the right to play, he has to rise to this level.
“He wants to win things, be in the Champions League, win Premier League titles and maybe even the Ballon d’Or one day. They are the types of goals you will set.
“He’s not going to stop until he starts achieving some of those things. I really hope he does. He deserves it.”
“It was an obsession”
Elliott, who was known as ‘Mr football’ as a child, grew up a keen Liverpool supporter alongside his father Scott but will develop his skills at QPR.
With his mentor Chickelday, Elliott spent hours on the training ground practicing skills and set-pieces, working towards his dream of one day playing at Anfield.
“When I first came in he was quite shy because he was tiny,” Chickelday recalls. “He played a year and we had some big characters in that group. It took him a while to get into it.
“But when you’re a good player like Harvey, you’re accepted.
“He was so into football. I never saw him without a ball. Even the things that didn’t come naturally to him, he put in hours of work. It was an obsession.
“You could teach him a skill and he would practice for hours. He wouldn’t stop until he got her.”
“That talent made me choose him”
Elliott’s hard work paid off in 2018 when, as a 15-year-old, he made his Fulham debut in the League Cup having attended school earlier that day.
He made his Premier League debut a year later, becoming the youngest player at the time to appear in the competition at the age of 16 years and 30 days.
Two months later, he signed for Liverpool and signed his first professional contract. Liverpool paid Fulham £4.3m in compensation – a record for a 16-year-old.
But it was a loan spell at Blackburn in 2020-21 that really gave fans a taste of what was to come.
“We would never say ‘we did Harvey Elliott’ but we integrated him into a men’s team and he learned to compete,” former Blackburn boss Tony Mowbray told BBC Sport.
“You could see it in training because you couldn’t get the ball off him. He was stuck to his foot. He sees all the passes. From day one I’m sure the rest of the players were going ‘wow’.”
“That talent made me choose him – he was that good.”
Elliott showed all the traits he had as a kid, but Mowbray recalled a “scream” after an away game at QPR where the winger reacted to a revelation.
“He was sent off for a mishandling and he fought back. What he showed me was that he was on fire in his belly. He apologized the next day and it all went to bed,” Mowbray said.
“But he had personality, character and wanted to win every game. It was a very good experience for him.
“The staff would debate whether he was good enough to get into Klopp’s team. I would never doubt his talent, I just wasn’t sure how he would displace these players at Liverpool. And yet there he is.”
“His shirt is nailed to my son’s wall”
So what’s next for Elliott at Liverpool?
“I know how much he loves the game. At the core is that love of football and that drives the best players,” Mowbray said.
“I wouldn’t compare Harvey to Paul Gascoigne, but the pure attributes of love for the ball and the game – they had it. They can do everything with the ball.
“Jurgen has seen the talent and trusts him. I’d be delighted to be a Liverpool supporter for Harvey Elliott’s continued form.”
A view shared by Chickelday who hopes Elliott can take his game to the next level.
“It makes me incredibly proud,” he said. “I like to see the development of all the players I work with. Harvey was the standout.
“I have a nine-year-old son who watches him play all the time. He gave my son his England shirt. I was wiping a little tear. It’s a picture on my son’s wall.
“Who knows what might happen with Harvey Elliott.”