Not only does Georginio Wijnaldum have the privilege of playing for Liverpool, but he also regularly gets the chance to go to lunch with club legend Kenny Dalglish.
The Dutch midfielder has discussed the role that the Anfield great has played in helping him settle down on Merseyside and find his top form in his first season at the club.
Wijnaldum needed only one campaign to justify the £25million Liverpool paid to sign him from Newcastle, posing as the goal-scoring, creative and hard working central midfielder Jurgen Klopp’s side was in desperate need of.
“On a typical day with Kenny, he takes me out for lunch. We live close together and he tells me about the matches he has already seen me play at Feyenoord. About goals I made and about the things that appealed to him in my game,” he told de Telegraaf.
Speaking before his 5-0 World Cup qualifier win for the Netherlands against Luxembourg, Wijnaldum also touched on the vital opening goal he scored in Liverpool’s decisive final game of the season against Middlesbrough.
His emphatic finish on the stroke of half-time triggered a huge sigh of relief around Anfield after a nervy first 45 minutes, sending the Reds on their way towards a 3-0 win to secure a top four finish and a place in the Champions League play-off.
“You felt on the field that people lost their trust. It did not work out (by half-time) and the club was so excited for the Champions League. In one shot, my fellow players also trusted. I just know what I can do and I always trust in the things I do,” he added.
“Klopp is also very close (to me), but I have an incredibly educational year behind me. Through this kind of football, such a trainer and in such a difficult competition as the Premier League, I further develop myself as a player.”
Wijnaldum grew in confidence as the season progressed, finding his place as the all-action midfielder responsible for not only being the link between defence and attack, not only contributing goals and assists, but also winning the ball back.
He has proven to be an inspired piece of summer business and a perfect fit to Klopp’s favoured system. Those lunch trips with the King appear to have worked a treat.