Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson Becker’s impressive late cameo in the Champions League final offered just a tiny glimpse of how good he will become, according to the man who watches him every day.
And John Achterberg, the Reds’ long-serving goalkeeping coach, believes no-one can now doubt the £65million spent on the Brazil international last summer was not worth the outlay.
The 26-year-old was a virtual bystander for 70 minutes at the Wanda Metropolitano as his side led 1-0 from an early penalty and opponents Tottenham struggling to lay a glove on Liverpool.
But with the stakes raised in the final stages he pulled off a string of saves with an air of confidence which left his team-mates in no doubt a sixth European Cup was returning to Merseyside.
“It is unbelievable the way he stayed calm in the difficult situations and the saves he makes, he takes the team through the pressure moments,” Achterberg told Press Association Sport.
“He’s done it in a few games: Napoli to get to the knockout round, Barcelona to get to the final. What can you say?
“Decision-making you cannot train, you train and try to prepare but what he does is so unbelievable in his first year in the UK.
“Also staying calm under high pressure is not to teach, it is natural. The training you can prepare what’s going to happen in a game and situations you can train but decision-making, when to come, when to stay, when to be calm and when to play he showed that’s all him.
“We bought an expensive goalie but he paid it back with the trophy, he had a big hand in it anyway.”
Alisson finished the Premier League season as the Golden Glove winner with 21 clean sheets.
Achterberg said that was testament to his hard work which will only make him better.
“There are always things he can improve but the level he has produced this season is probably one of the best in the world. He showed it,” he added.
“He needs to keep driving this to make sure he gets the recognition from everyone.
“He has had an amazing season to break the record for clean sheets. What can you say?
“He has set a standard for himself and to try to overtake it again because that is the drive you have to create as a player, always to be better.”
The praise for Alisson’s performance was the direct opposite of 12 months ago when predecessor Loris Karius, unbeknown to the staff suffering with concussion, committed two errors which led to the 3-1 defeat by Real Madrid.
On that occasion Achterberg found himself having to console and support the German.
“That’s football. It’s tough for the one and great for the other, it’s true,” said the Dutchman.
“The staff and the players work their balls off and we have to go again.
“You can’t say anything about the investment from the owners either because that has helped as well. Hopefully we keep it going and try to win the next one.”