Tyler Morton continued, turning his head very slightly to glance over his shoulder at a familiar specification. From his panorama of the Anfield field for his Champions League salvation against Porto, the 19-year-old saw his previous vision of those nights under the lights: the front row of the Annie Road End.
Sitting alongside his father and brother, Morton marveled that even though “it wasn’t the Kop” they had “an incredible view of the players”.
Now he was one of those footballers in a Liverpool kit, representing the club in the competition so tied to its history.
In a game where the result made no sense to the Merseysiders with a knockout qualification already secured, that meant everything to a kid who entered academy at the age of seven.
If the opportunity alone wasn’t gold enough, the storyline had an extra shimmer.
Morton naturally grew up idolizing Steven Gerrard, but his late teens were spent obsessively watching and trying to extract the attributes of an entirely different midfielder: Thiago.
On Saturday, he replaced the pedigree 30-year-old in the 84th minute to make his Premier League debut in Arsenal’s 4-0 teardown.
If that wasn’t enough of an ‘everything was a dream’ scene already, Morton teamed up with Thiago in midfield against Porto, watching him decorate the night with a wonderful, DID YOU SEE THAT ?! a strike.
With 52 on the clock, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s terrible free-kick was easily cleared, but the ball fell on No.6 Liverpool, the player furthest from goalkeeper Alisson.
Morton’s eyes and feet were trying to follow his path and then… boom! Magic.
Thiago ran on the ball, bent back slightly as he used the cushioning of his right foot to cut it straight and managed to slide it just over the grass before dissecting Fabio’s legs. Cardoso and nestle in the lower corner.
One of the greatest goals of all time from a distance was now part of Morton’s big chance – the player who helped frame his development.
Mohamed Salah made a typically delicious effort to apply more shine that wasn’t really necessary.
Liverpool triumphed in a game that won’t particularly engage memory banks for an age, but Morton could never forget that. This step, his big break, this goal… it was all a dream.