Why Liverpool’s Harvey Elliott’s injury against Leeds is a sobering reminder for footballers at every level

The 18-year-old suffered a sickening ankle injury in the Reds’ 3-0 victory over Leeds United.

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Harvey Elliott of Liverpool receives medical treatment during the Premier League match against Leeds United. Photo: Shaun Botterill/Getty ImagesHarvey Elliott of Liverpool receives medical treatment during the Premier League match against Leeds United. Photo: Shaun Botterill/Getty Images
Harvey Elliott of Liverpool receives medical treatment during the Premier League match against Leeds United. Photo: Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

It was an incident that marred a swaggering performance.

Mohamed Salah's reaction immediately told those packed into Elland Road and watching at home the severity of the injury Harvey Elliott suffered in Liverpool's 3-0 defeat of Leeds.

Elliott’s priority

In a perturbed manner, the forward instinctively waved the Reds’ medical team onto the pitch.

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They sprinted to the scene even before referee Craig Pawson had stopped play. Rapid attention was required.

An excruciating yelp of pain from Elliott emphasised how bad his ankle setback was. Even Sky Sports eschewed showing replays given the nature of it.

In fairness to Whites defender Pascal Struijk, his challenge was innocuous. There was no malice, no excessive force - just frantic and that understandably had ramifications.

Struijk was issued a straight red card which he couldn't argue with - not that it was relevant in the grand scheme of things.

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As Reds manager Jurgen Klopp said after the game: Struijk will be back after a three-match ban.

In contast, the priority for Elliott will be to return to action entirely. Then to return to the high-quality levels he’s displayed.

Luckily, the teenager was stretchered off as quickly as anyone could have hoped for.

Oxygen to assist breathing wasn't required, applause from Leeds fans as he left the pitch were given back and an Instagram message to Kopites points towards Elliott might be over the initial blow.

LEEDS, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 12: Harvey Elliott of Liverpool applauds the fans as he leaves the pitch on a stretcher following an injury during the Premier League match between Leeds United and Liverpool at Elland Road on September 12, 2021 in Leeds, England. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)LEEDS, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 12: Harvey Elliott of Liverpool applauds the fans as he leaves the pitch on a stretcher following an injury during the Premier League match between Leeds United and Liverpool at Elland Road on September 12, 2021 in Leeds, England. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
LEEDS, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 12: Harvey Elliott of Liverpool applauds the fans as he leaves the pitch on a stretcher following an injury during the Premier League match between Leeds United and Liverpool at Elland Road on September 12, 2021 in Leeds, England. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

Road to recovery

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What intensified the incident was because it happened to such a precocious talent.

It happened to someone who's only 18 and yet was making a third successive Premier League start. Elliots place in the team also confined his Premier League and Champions League-winning captain, Jordan Henderson, to the substitutes' bench.

It happened to a fledgling ace who's even been likened to Lionel Messi. That’s how highly he’s thought of.

It might be uncomfortable to admit but the midfielder could well - and fingers crossed it’s not - have suffered a career-threatening injury.

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Medical advancements mean that's highly improbable. Everton's Andre Gomes sustained a similar problem in November 2019 and has bounced back to make a full recovery.

Rehabilitation will be gruelling in parts. Tough days and, at times, dark thoughts, might be ahead.

Everton’s Andre Gomes suffered a serious ankle injury in November 2019 but made a full recovery Picture: OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty ImagesEverton’s Andre Gomes suffered a serious ankle injury in November 2019 but made a full recovery Picture: OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images
Everton’s Andre Gomes suffered a serious ankle injury in November 2019 but made a full recovery Picture: OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images

But Elliott will more than likely be kicking a ball in the future. Hopefully for Liverpool and England and he'll fulfil his burgeoning potential.

In truth, injuries like that suffered by the former Fulham youngster are rare.

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Yet there are stories about upcoming youngsters who've seen bright futures harshly and unfairly ended in similar circumstances.

A reminder for all

What Elliott's injury gave us was a sobering reminder.

A sobering reminder that, although it might not be as dangerous as stepping into a boxing ring or MMA cage, footballers do risk life-changing injuries every time they go onto the pitch.

And that's any level - not just the Premier League. From the top flight to the tens of thousands who play on a Sunday morning in this country alone.

Whether, it's Anfield, Goodison Park, Stanley Park, Walton Hall Park or, in this case, Elland Road, there is the chance of a serious setback.

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A professional footballer who might be tipped as a future star can instead be forced to retire in the blink of an eye.

A Sunday League player who's made a decent career as a tradesman or something else could instead be forced to take up a desk-bound 9-5 job because of a damaged ankle or knee.

Of course, none of us would have the game played any differently than it is. It's a contact sport in which tackling is an art. A perfectly-timed ‘slidey’ is as joyous to watch as a 35-yard worldie.

There are people who vehemently oppose the changes that have already been made.

One thing we can all agree on: don't take the game for granted.

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