Jurgen Klopp has claimed that Liverpool’s Caoimhin Kelleher is the best back-up goalkeeper in world football.
Kelleher was once again the penalty hero for Liverpool last night, saving three spot-kicks in the shootout against Derby. And speaking to LFCTV after the game, Klopp couldn’t hide his feelings on the Irishman.
“I’ve said before, I think we have the best number two in the world as well. He’s [Kelleher] had problems with injuries this season, but when he’s fit he’s outstanding. He’s good on the ball. And the last penalty save is one of the best you have ever saw. All three actually I thought were brilliant,” gushed the Liverpool manager.
Amazingly, Kelleher now has the most penalty shootout victories in Liverpool history. No goalie can match his four wins. All in just 18 appearances too.
In that time, the 23-year-old has saved six penalties, whilst also scoring the winner to lift the Carabao Cup last February. What a goalkeeper.
Kelleher shows his quality yet again
Perhaps it’s hyperbole from Klopp, but I challenge you to find a No.2 as accomplished as Liverpool’s.
It isn’t just the penalties, everything Caoimhin does oozes class. He’s one of the coolest customers you’ll ever see in goal. He never seems flustered or panicked, everything is always under control.
As a goalkeeper, this is maybe the greatest strength you can have. Alisson Becker has it in spades, and it’s clear that his younger colleague has been learning a lot from the Brazilian.
But that in itself isn’t enough, not at a club like Liverpool. You also need to display plenty of quality. With games not coming around too often, that can be difficult to show.
Indeed, Kelleher’s last game for the Reds before last night was actually last season’s Carabao Cup final.
That was almost fully nine months ago, now. To come in after such a long time out of the team and to be the hero again really takes some doing.
Unfortunately, no back-up that good is likely to stay as a back-up forever. Next summer, the timing will probably be right for Kelleher to spread his wings.
It really will be a shame to see him go. In his short Liverpool career he has become something of a cult figure. But with nights like this coming regularly for Kelleher, he’ll be keen to nail down a starting berth somewhere. In the meantime, there’s still plenty to play for at Anfield.