Ireland U21 goalkeeper Caoimhin Kelleher has opened up on working under Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp in a year which has seen him become a Champions League winner with the club.
Kelleher was involved in the squad for their 2-0 victory over Spurs in Madrid in June and earned a winner’s medal in the process despite the 20-year-old still only being in the infancy of his career.
The Cork native has been in and around the Liverpool first team over the last couple of seasons as well as breaking into Stephen Kenny’s U21s squad where he is currently the first choice between the sticks.
It’s been a whirlwind year for the young keeper who now also finds himself as Liverpool’s second choice thanks to an injury to their number one, Alisson, at the start of the season.
Kelleher though, was keen to stress that his Champions League winner’s medal is now a thing of the past and that his sights are firmly set on his role in the international team.
“It was obviously a good year for me,” Kelleher told Pundit Arena, as the U21s prepare for their European Qualifier against Armenia on Friday night.
“It’s the first year of being involved in with the first team and being in the squad. At the time (of the Champions League win) I didn’t really know what to think, going away on holidays and looking back on it.”
“It was a great year but that’s over now it’s in the past. I need to start looking forward now, but it was a very good year and I was happy with it.”
The 20-year-old has found himself on the bench for Liverpool’s last two Premier League games and is clearly a young player that Reds boss Jurgen Klopp has a lot of faith in.
Klopp has frequently praised Kelleher’s attitude and ability in the past and the Irish U21 international explained what it’s like working under a manager of the German’s calibre.
“It’s obviously very good. He’s one of the best managers in the world so being with him everyday can only be a good thing. He’s very good at man management, you can see that in the way every player gets along with him and players who aren’t playing or who aren’t in the squads, he makes them feel a part of it.
“He makes everyone feel like they’re a big part of it.”
Kelleher was also quizzed on the comparisons between his manager at club level, in Klopp, and his manager at international level, in Stephen Kenny, outlining that the pair have very similar philosophies on the game.
“I think they’re both man managers and make every player feel a part of the team, they just want players to enjoy playing their football which is the main thing.
“They are fearless, they don’t want to sit back and grind out results they want their teams to go on the attack and go and win games.
At Liverpool, Kelleher has been developing excellently and every year seems to edge closer and closer to his first competitive start for the club.
He will however have a difficult time usurping the Brazilian Alisson who has proven himself to be one of the finest goalkeepers in world football.
Kelleher explained that despite the competition in the ranks at Liverpool, Alisson has been very good to work with and learn from, with the 20-year-old outlining that the Brazilian has helped him improve his game massively.
“He’s been very good to me to be fair. Over the last year I think I’ve improved quite a good bit in that part of the game (with the ball at his feet) and a lot of that has been down to working with him, watching him and seeing what he does in certain situations and speaking to him as well.
“He’ll speak to me too on stuff that I can improve on too so it’s been a huge help yeah.”