Jack Harrison's Unorthodox Journey to Premier League Was Worth the Wait After Stunning Leeds Display

Jack Harrison
Jack Harrison kicked off the Premier League season with a bang | Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Jack Harrison has taken an unconventional route to the top. However, he proved his convoluted journey to the Premier League was worth it in one of many positives for Leeds, despite their opening day defeat to Liverpool.

Marcelo Bielsa's side paid the the reigning champions of England absolutely no respect whatsoever in a fearless, adventurous and bullish performance, pouring players forward and daring Liverpool to attempt their high press at their peril.

Jack Harrison, Patrick Bamford, Helder Costa
Harrison scored a stunner on his Premier League debut | Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

They ultimately slipped to a 4-3 defeat, but came as close to taking three points at Anfield as any side had throughout the 2019/20 campaign.

Kalvin Phillips caught the eye by merrily picking out searching passes all afternoon, but he is a name that has become synonymous with Leeds' success over the last two years, and shot to national attention after receiving his maiden England call-up in August.

The equally impressive Harrison has earned less of the limelight in the buildup to Leeds' first season in the top flight for 16 years. He quickly gave Premier League fans - and Trent Alexander-Arnold - a flavour of his ability in an stunning performance.

Growing up, Harrison would likely have thought his Premier League debut would have come in the North West - however probably not at Liverpool, and probably not for Leeds.

The winger spent seven years in the Manchester United academy between the age of seven and 14 - so far, so regular.

But at 14, the normality stopped.

Harrison's mother made the observation that many football supporters, players and parents make: English academies are stuffed full of talented youngsters, with coaches looking to handpick one or two to eventually progress into the first team. The rest will be ditched as teenagers, collateral damage as the academy machine does its job of churning out a couple of stars per season. Very few will actually make it.

But while others are aware of the percentages and the statistics and the odds that are stacked against their sons, they still throw them into the system hoping that they might be a member of that elite 1%. In contrast, Harrison's mother had the foresight to do something about it.

Jack Harrison
Harrison played in the MLS with New York City | Michael Stewart/Getty Images

She used his footballing talents to earn him a scholarship to private boarding school Berkshire in Massachusetts. Harrison travelled half way across the world to the United States, his mother stayed in Bolton.

The attacking midfielder shone at high school level and played one year of college football before being a first choice pick in the MLS draft. After two seasons at New York City, the team's partner club Manchester City came calling.

Nine years on from leaving United, he was back in Manchester on the books of a Premier League side - but had an education, two full seasons of senior football and experience of playing alongside Frank Lampard, Andre Pirlo and David Villa under his belt.

Mums know best.

Harrison's goal was a thing of beauty | SHAUN BOTTERILL/Getty Images

Harrison has enjoyed a traditional Manchester City experience thus far - yet to make a first team appearance and currently on his fourth season out on loan - but is thriving at Leeds.

The 23-year-old flourished during his second season at Elland Road as the Whites secured their long awaited promotion. He then burst onto the Premier League scene with a wonderful individual goal, making a mockery of Alexander-Arnold and Joe Gomez before powering home.

Harrison's sublime control, speed and energy wreaked havoc all evening. Both he and Leeds laid down a marker of what is to come this season.

For Leeds and Harrison, it may not have been the most straightforward route to the Premier League, but boy was it worth it.