Frank Lampard’s best work at Everton? Jack Harrison credits ex-Toffees boss for helping him realise his potential while team-mates at New York City… and the winger also reveals his Marcelo Bielsa regret
- Harrison played with the likes of Andrea Pirlo and David Villa at New York City
- He is now looking to kick on at Everton under a very different manager to Bielsa
- Listen to the latest episode of Mail Sport’s podcast ‘It’s All Kicking Off!’
Though Frank Lampard failed as an Everton manager, thousands of Bluenoses heading to Anfield on Saturday could still end up grateful to him for mentoring Jack Harrison.
Harrison’s fantastic goal against Bournemouth two weeks ago earned Sean Dyche’s team a much-needed win ahead of the Merseyside derby.
Yet he’s not forgotten his spell as a timid teenage hopeful at New York City when Lampard rocked up at the end of his playing career.
They forged a close bond and Harrison credits the former Chelsea and England great for giving him the self-belief to be a success in the Premier League.
‘I thought I had an idea what it meant to be a professional until I saw what Frank did on and off the pitch. Everything was 100 per cent,’ recalls Harrison.
Jack Harrison has paid tribute to former Everton manager Frank Lampard following his move to Everton in the summer
Harrison played with Lampard (right) at New York City but arrived too late for the former Toffees boss to coach him on Merseyside
Lampard was sacked as Everton manager earlier this year with the club in danger of relegation
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‘There are kids who probably think they have already made it but I was the opposite. I wanted to listen and remember knocking on Frank’s hotel door for advice.
‘I’d been brought up to be humble so I think having that ego and confidence on the pitch was something that maybe challenged me. It was difficult to bring out.
‘But after talking to Frank, it was something that he applied to himself. Stepping out, he used to tell himself he was the best player on the pitch. It’s like you need that little bit of ego in order to make it to the top level.
‘I watched an interview with Zlatan Ibrahimovic where he said he felt like God when he was on the pitch! I’m not at that level but it’s good to hear stories like that.
‘When you’re in the tunnel alongside Mo Salah or whoever, you need to feel like you belong. Focusing on that mentality was something I had to develop.’
Harrison’s pathway has been unusual. Mum Debbie persuaded him to leave the Manchester United academy aged 12 for a sports scholarship to America, believing it was the best route to become a professional. ‘She likes to say she opened the door and then it was up to me whether I went through it,’ he says.
After impressing at High School and College, Harrison joined New York at 18 with Patrick Vieira as manager and Lampard, Andrea Pirlo and David Villa as team-mates.
‘It took me a year to get used to it. At the start, if Patrick walked into a room, I felt like I was at school and done something wrong!’ he recalls.
Harrison played for New York City during his teenage years with Patrick Vieira (centre) his manager at the club
His team-mates included several high-profile players such as David Villa (centre) and Andrea Pirlo (right)
‘I always had that feeling being around those guys, like “I am still with them?” but I got to know Frank a little better. We did a bit of injury rehab together and built a good rapport.
‘He took me in and we’d be able to joke with each other. He is somebody I’ll always look up to and I can talk to him now.
‘He still messages me. When I joined Everton, he was like “Oh yeah, of course you are joining them after I leave!” He wished me the best of luck and said it was a great club to be a part of.’
Lampard was sacked at Goodison in January after just under a year in charge, missing Harrison by eight months when he signed on loan from relegated Leeds in August.
A hip injury delayed his debut until September 27 but he’s made an quick impact. His first Premier League start was marked with a thunderous half-volley which sealed Everton’s first home win of the season.
‘The stadium had been super-quiet which I’d never connected with Goodison Park but once Jimmy Garner scored the first, the noise was like “Wow”. It sounded like 80,000,’ reflects Harrison.
‘It was nice Mum was there to see my second goal. Seeing her face afterwards was gratifying and makes it all worth it, going to America and being apart for so long.
‘She loves the football atmosphere, that culture of being together and cheering on a team. She tells me she wants to go in the end with the Everton fans!’
Harrison was made to wait to make his debut but scored in his first outing for his new club
From America, Harrison signed for New York’s parent club Manchester City in 2018, from where he moved on to Leeds.
Having escaped relegation by the skin of their teeth in the last two seasons, Everton are desperate to avoid any further drama with owner Farhad Moshiri trying to 777 Partners and the team due to move to a new stadium at Bramley-Moore Dock.
Their recent record at Anfield is awful with only one win there this Century and that behind Covid closed doors in 2021.
In terms of managers Harrison has played under, Dyche couldn’t be more removed than his Leeds bosses, the super-intense Marcelo Bielsa or Jesse March who quoted Gandhi before matches.
The player was stunned, and delighted, to even be given some days off during the recent international break.
He is now playing under Sean Dyche, who has a different approach to matches to Harrison’s former coaches
He described former Leeds boss Marcelo Bielsa as ‘so regimented’ but wishes he appreciated his time with him more
‘Everything was so regimented with Marcelo. Sean likes to put emphasis on family and it’s been nice to spend a bit more time at home. When we’re in, we get our heads down and work hard,’ reveals Harrison.
‘Marcelo’s tactics were different to most people. It was man-to-man marking and running beyond anything I’d seen. My three years with him flew by. He put a lot of emphasis on analysis. Even if we’d won, he’d be straight back to work saying “We could have done this better.”
‘We had some amazing moments and he made the player I am today. I just kind of wished I’d enjoyed it a little bit more in the moment.
‘Sean definitely has his ways of motivation. He talks about a direct style of play but it’s not long ball, it is trying to play forward at the right times.
‘I’m a player who likes to have energy, whether pressurising high or working back to get the ball. It’s a good fit.’
Given Dyche had limited funds in the summer, landing someone of Harrison’s ability was Godsend.
He’d delayed surgery to try and help Leeds beat the drop last season, but to no avail.
He’s not panicking that by joining Everton he’s gone from the frying pan into the fire. Three wins from four in all competitions has been an encouraging recovery from a poor start.
Everton have won three of their last four matches after another tricky start to the new season
They are preparing to face Liverpool in the Merseyside derby this weekend following the international break
‘I saw a club with good foundations,’ explains Harrison about his move.
‘The responsibility is on the players pretty much and seeing the set-up I thought if I came here with the right mentality, I can succeed.
‘I never want to be relegated again. It’s a motivator for me to make sure it doesn’t happen.
‘It’s something I need to take responsibility for. To help drive Everton to where it belongs. This club shouldn’t be fighting relegation.’
IT’S ALL KICKING OFF!
It’s All Kicking Off is an exciting new podcast from Mail Sport that promises a different take on Premier League football, launching with a preview show today and every week this season.
It is available on MailOnline, Mail+, YouTube , Apple Music and Spotify
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