Tyler Morton stressed the hard work and learning continues after signing a new long-term contract with Liverpool.
The 20-year-old committed his future to his boyhood club on Wednesday by putting pen to paper on the deal at the AXA Training Centre.
Morton, a product of the Kirkby Academy set-up, enjoyed a breakthrough campaign at senior level for the Reds in 2021-22, during which he made nine appearances – including starts in the Premier League and Champions League.
His development is continuing with a season-long loan in the Championship with Blackburn Rovers, where he's featured in 28 fixtures in all competitions so far this term.
Liverpoolfc.com sat down with Morton shortly after signing his contract – watch the interview here, or read on for the transcript...
Tyler, first of all, congratulations. How does it feel to sign this new deal?
Thank you very much. I'm absolutely buzzing. The little dream is coming true, so I couldn't be happier. I've known for a little while and it's been ongoing, and I couldn't wait to get it over the line because this is the place I want to be and this is the club I want to be at. I'm absolutely buzzing and I can't wait for the future.
You say it's been in the pipeline for a while but prior to that, were you expecting it?
Not so soon. I've obviously worked hard in recent years to get this contract, but you can never expect anything and you've got to expect the unexpected. Now that it's come, it's a big weight off my shoulders and now I can enjoy my footy and continue doing what I love doing – playing. I'm absolutely buzzing, as I said, and I can't wait for the future.
It's a reward for not just what you've done here – because the progress has been great over the last 12 months – but also the progress that you've made in a first-team environment at Blackburn...
I've been extremely proud of myself for how I've handled the loan so far. Hopefully I carry that on and take it into the next half of the season. I feel like I'm progressing every day and learning new things on and off the pitch. It's a lovely environment to learn and turn myself into a professional – and I think I'm doing that quite well. Hopefully it sets me up for what's to come in the future.
What improvements do you think you've made while you've been away at Blackburn?
I think physicality is the main one for me. I think I've been questioned on that in recent years because of my stature and stuff like that. But I think I've coped with it extremely well. I needed that to go out and enjoy my footy – get smashed about and just enjoy the rough side of the game. I've done that and I've coped with it very well. Now I'm maturing as a footballer and I'm going to look to carry on progressing.
You go there and sometimes there's an expectation when a young player goes out on loan that they'll be in and out of the team, might get a squad number that's way down the list. You get the No.6 shirt, you're playing every week and it's a team that's flying high. What kind of pressures does that bring?
It brings a lot of pressure on you but I've said this many times before, I enjoy the pressure and I think I take that in my stride and thrive off it. I've really enjoyed it and enjoyed being pressured and playing most games. It's a lovely thing when it all goes well and it's tough when it doesn't go well. But that's why I'm out on loan, that's why I'm learning – to come back here and fight for whatever I can get. I feel like it's a completely different environment but I needed it and I'm so happy that Liverpool have allowed me to go out and really enjoy my footy.
Do you develop a new side to your personality as well? You might have been quite glad as a young player to play the odd game; whereas now at Blackburn it's your shirt and nobody's taking it off you...
Definitely, it's like a hunger. I think it's introduced a real hunger to play and, especially going to Blackburn, just having that feeling of getting three points and fighting for draws and so on. It's really good and what I needed. It just makes me really hungry to come back here whenever I come back and really fight and show the qualities I've not only got but what I've learned away from this club.
What about the conversations you've had with Jürgen Klopp when you left this place? What did he want you to go and develop at Blackburn?
He was very good with me. Before I went, him, Pep and Vitor all spoke to me quite a lot. Obviously I had options where to go and they were just giving me advice and helping me throughout. I think they handled the situation very well and I also handled the situation very well. They just allow me to go out there and enjoy my footy and just play as many games as I can. Obviously I've got things in my game that I need to improve – and I know that – and I've got a long way to go to be anywhere near the first team at this football club. I'm still young, I'm still fighting for a place in the first team. For them to put the trust in me to go out and enjoy my footy and not really give me many instructions just to make sure I'm enjoying it and improving day in, day out, I'm really happy and I couldn't be more glad where I am.
That mentoring process continues, though – you're getting texts after games and telling you where you need to improve or things you've done well at...
Definitely. We've got a group chat for the loanee lads and they keep us updated and they text us good luck and if you're doing well you get praise. It's really nice that they keep in touch with us. I think it's what you need as well. You also need to still feel like, even though you're away from the club, this is home – because it is home to us and especially to me. I really do feel it, even though I'm not at this club. That's a really nice feeling and it gives you a lot of reassurance. I'm really happy with that.
You've clicked with a lot of the first-team players – Thiago is one that you've talked about before in terms of how closely you watch his game. That goes two ways, doesn't it? You're watching the way Liverpool play at the moment, picking things up from a distance...
I'm a Liverpool fan and I'm from the area, so it's always going to stay with me. I still go the games, nothing's changed. It's lovely in a way because I can focus on my footy and Blackburn, but also in the back of my head is Liverpool because it's who I support and the team I love. Especially getting this contract and being back in the building, it's really nice and it was a nice feeling. I'm looking forward to kicking on.
Just finally, what's stuck out during this interview is your long-term ambition is to be here, to be in that first team and to be a first-team regular here at Liverpool – that caps it, hopefully, with the contract you've signed...
Definitely. I think it's another stepping stone in the journey I'm trying to create. It is lovely but at the same time, I've got to focus on my footy and I've got to knuckle down and crack on where I am now – and that's Blackburn. Hopefully in the future, whatever comes, I've got a long way to go – I know that – and I've got a lot of things to improve on to even get near it. So, I understand that and I'm willing to knuckle down and fight for a place.