Departing Liverpool FC coach set to join Steven Gerrard in Saudi Arabia

After 15 years at Liverpool, goalkeeping coach John Achterberg has decided to seek a new challenge, and it is set to reunite him with Steven Gerrard.

Achterberg’s contract expires in the summer, and despite belief he would help welcome in another new manager, he elected to depart in search of a fresh challenge.

In an emotional thank you letter posted on Instagram, the 52-year-old said his decision came with a “heavy heart,” but that it “could be right for me to start a new challenge.”

And according to the Mirror‘s chief football writer, Simon Mullock, that is to take him to Saudi Arabia to work under Gerrard at Al-Ettifaq.

Achterberg “has been offered” to take his next job as part of Gerrard’s coaching staff, which would reunite the pair after both being at Liverpool from 2009 to 2015.

It would be a somewhat surprise move for Achterberg, who has been based on Merseyside since 1998, having worked at Tranmere before first joining Liverpool’s academy.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Wednesday, July 22, 2020: Liverpool’s goalkeeper Andy Lonergan, goalkeeper Adrián San Miguel del Castillo, goalkeeper Alisson Becker, goalkeeping coach John Achterberg and goalkeeper Caoimhin Kelleher celebrate with the Premier League trophy as the Reds are crowned Champions after the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Chelsea FC at Anfield. The game was played behind closed doors due to the UK government’s social distancing laws during the Coronavirus COVID-19 Pandemic. Liverpool won 5-3. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Achterberg would be a coup for Gerrard, though.

He is full of experience and knows how to identify goalkeeping talent, having previously told This Is Anfield he searches “all the leagues to see if there are new goalies coming up.”

Gerrard held on to his position at Al-Ettifaq despite early criticism and, in fact, signed an extension in January to keep him in the role until 2027.

The former Liverpool captain’s side are currently eighth in the Saudi Pro League, 45 points behind league leaders Al-Hilal – though only three sides have conceded fewer goals after 30 games.

As for Al-Ettifaq’s current goalkeeping department, Artur Guedes is the designated coach and former Flamengo and Gremio ‘keeper Paulo Victor is the No. 1, with two Saudi natives as his backup.

Back at Liverpool, it remains to be seen what Achterberg’s departure means for fellow goalkeeper coaches Jack Robinson and Claudio Taffarel.