“We needed the football playing ability.”
Caoimhín Kelleher made an impressive Champions League debut for Liverpool on Tuesday night. The Cork-native started for Jurgen Klopp’s side in their 1-0 win over Ajax at Anfield, making several notable saves and keeping a clean sheet for the Reds.
Kelleher, 22, started for the Premier League champions after Alisson Becker pulled out of the match with a tight hamstring.
Jurgen Klopp picked the Irish goalkeeper, the first Irishman to play in the Champions League for four years, ahead of Spanish teammate Adrian, who has made several errors when playing for Liverpool.
Klopp, however, was keen to emphasis that Republic of Ireland under-21 international Kelleher was selected to play against Ajax because of his superior footballing ability.
Klopp on why he started Kelleher.
“I really think Adrian has done for us an incredible job,” Klopp said.
“But tonight, in this game, we needed the football playing ability, the natural football playing ability of Caoimhín.
“And because he’s a really good shot-stopper as-well. I’m really happy how Caoimhín Kelleher dealt with it. How calm he was and how good he was.”
Liverpool are through to the Champions League knockouts ✅
The Reds top Group D, and Jürgen Klopp gives Caoimhin Kelleher a big bear hug.
A great display from the young keeper 👏 pic.twitter.com/HpP2junkqV
— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) December 1, 2020
Kelleher reflects on his Champions League debut.
“It was an amazing one for me, to make my debut in a Champions League game was massive. And we got the win and qualified. A great night,” Kelleher said following the game.
“That’s what I’m there for, I work every day in training to make sure I am ready and I was able to make a good few saves.
“It’s quite easy for me with the players in front of me, they give me good options. We are not here to take part. The young players want to push on and play as many games as we can.
“My phone has been hot since I got in tonight, thanks for all the support.”
Kelleher could retain his starting spot for Liverpool, with Alisson set to miss Saturday’s Premier League game against Wolverhampton Wanderers.