Jurgen Klopp singled out Caoimhin Kelleher for major praise last night after the Irishman saved three penalties to help Liverpool progress through to the next round of the EFL Cup.
The Republic of Ireland international kept a clean sheet during normal time as the Reds were held to a goalless draw by Derby County at Anfield and his heroics during the spot kicks saw him become the goalkeeper with the most shootout victories (4) and most shootout penalty saves (6) in the club’s history.
It was the first time the No. 62 has appeared for the Merseysiders this season and although he has to regularly settle for a spot behind Alisson Becker in the pecking order, Klopp labelled the 23-year-old as ‘absolutely exceptional’.
“In history? Wow! But let’s just talk about tonight,” the German said (as quoted by the Liverpool Echo). “I remember the others, of course they were good as well.
“But tonight they were three really good penalties. They were all going in the corner and he saved them anyway. That’s massive.
“We never hold him back or say, ‘Caoimhin, you can’t play.’ He’s exceptional, absolutely exceptional.
“Not had the best season so far because he came back from holiday and was injured. It took a really long time to get him back in training and back to speed. But obviously he’s ready now.
“The goalkeeper coaches are doing an incredible job. He’s their product, and I’m sure they would say exactly the same. What they do with him, they develop a modern goalie. As calm as you like, can play football and on top of that can catch balls and keep the ball out of the net in a really good manner. That’s really good.
“I’m over the moon for him, that he can have these situations. He’s a very grounded boy, even though he rarely smiles. When he smiles, it means a lot to him. Really cool.
“There are still a lot of goalkeeping years to come for him. If he can keep that record, it will be exceptional. It will be insane numbers. He did really well.”
Before last night, Kelleher last featured for the club during the League Cup final defeat of Chelsea at Wembley in February.
We won 11-10 on penalties after a goalless 90 minutes and extra time with Irishman even netting himself from 12 yards out on the night.
Klopp labelled the shotstopper as the best number two in the world after last night’s victory and although it’s great to see him performing so well for the club whenever called upon, there will be slight concerns in the Liverpool camp at how long he’ll settle for being second choice.
In just under two weeks he will turn 24 and has only made 18 appearances for the club.
He will understand that he has one of the best goalkeepers in the world ahead of him in Alisson and he’s clearly learnt so much from the Brazilian, but he will also feel that he’s good enough to be starting for a team in the Premier League.
Kelleher has admitted that it’s ‘difficult’ not playing many games but insists he loves working hard in training and being ready whenever called upon.
Our No. 1 is under contract until 2027 so we can’t see Kelleher receiving regular game time anytime soon other than in the cup competitions.