Harvey Elliott scored seven goals and laid on 11 assists during his time on loan at Blackburn, but never played in front of their fans. But Monday night made up for that.
Elliott enjoyed a breakthrough campaign at Ewood Park last time out, with his performances over 42 games for Rovers giving him the platform to step up to the Liverpool first team.
But it came in strange circumstances, playing almost the entire season behind closed doors, only once performing in front of fans – that being 2,000 in a 2-2 draw at Brentford.
With restrictions easing across the UK and Elliott now back fit after a lengthy rehabilitation for an ankle injury, Monday gave the teenager an opportunity to return to Blackburn.
Though it was not exactly how manager Tony Mowbray – who was eager to retain Elliott beyond 2020/21 – would have hoped, the midfielder’s reception before the 1-0 win over Middlesbrough showed the fans’ appreciation for his efforts.
? It was a pleasure to see Harvey Elliott thank the Ewood Park faithful before kick-off.
? The Liverpool midfielder's entire loan spell was behind closed doors, so this was his first-time in front of a #Rovers crowd.
? Good luck with your recovery, Harvey!
— Blackburn Rovers (@Rovers) January 24, 2022
Great to see Harvey Elliott get some appreciation from #rovers fans who never saw him in the flesh. #bbcefl @BBCLancsSport pic.twitter.com/GQ6e5fSCsI
— Andy Bayes (@AndyBayes) January 24, 2022
The 18-year-old made a lap of the pitch, before signing shirts and posing for photographs, then heading down the tunnel and shaking the hand of every Blackburn player waiting to head out.
A short Q&A took place in the club’s hospitality lounge, with Elliott greeting supporters as he watched a victory that pushed Rovers up to second.
It was an appearance Elliott was not obliged to make, particularly with Liverpool given a week off during a break in fixtures, and it shows his mentality as a young player.
Football misses class quite a lot.
Harvey Elliott just came to Ewood Park to say thank you to #Rovers for the season he spent here.#LFC fans in Elliott you have something extremely rare – a football with genuine class and decency.
Will follow his entire career. Elite player
— Martin MJ (@MartinMJ22) January 24, 2022
The brief Q&A session in Jack's Kitchen concluded with Harvey Elliott expressing 'a massive thank you' to the #Rovers fans, as well as our club holding a big place in his heart, amongst others ? Top lad who demonstrates maturity beyond his yrs & a warm welcome always awaits! pic.twitter.com/rMppC5n612
— Elaine ?? (@Ewood_Elaine06) January 25, 2022
Good to see Harvey Elliott back on the Ewood Park pitch pre-match as well. Deserved recognition for a player who was so good and did so much for Rovers behind closed doors last season.
— Toby Wilding (@brfctoby96) January 24, 2022
What a man Harvey Elliott is ?
— Adam ?? (@Adamhenry2017) January 24, 2022
Elliott’s time at Blackburn was invaluable, as it prepared him to take the leap as a regular starter under Jurgen Klopp, before his four-month layoff.
He is now back fit and in full training, with Klopp revealing that he will come back into contention as soon as the FA Cup fourth-round tie at home to Cardiff on February 6.
Last season, Elliott set on a goal in Blackburn’s 2-2 draw with Cardiff, a game that also saw Harry Wilson assist twice while still on loan from Liverpool.