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LINZ, AUSTRIA - Thursday, September 21, 2023: Liverpool's goalkeeper Caoimhin Kelleher applauds the supporters after the UEFA Europa League Group E matchday 1 game between LASK and Liverpool FC at the Raiffeisen Arena. Liverpool won 3-1. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Caoimhin Kelleher admits he could leave Liverpool with “big ambition”

Republic of Ireland goalkeeper Caoimhin Kelleher will embark upon the latest phase of his career with a ringing endorsement from Jurgen Klopp.

The 25-year-old has admitted he may have to leave Liverpool to fulfil his ambition of playing regular top-flight football after deputising for Alisson Becker during his most productive season to date.

Whether his future remains at Anfield under new manager Arne Slot or elsewhere, he will go about his business buoyed by Klopp’s parting words following the end of his reign on Merseyside.

Asked what the German’s advice had been, Kelleher said: “He had some nice words for me.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Wednesday, October 30, 2019: Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp celebrates with goalkeeper Caoimhin Kelleher after the Football League Cup 4th Round match between Liverpool FC and Arsenal FC at Anfield. Liverpool won 5-4 on penalties after a 5-5 draw. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

“I was with him for a number of years and he said ‘You became a brilliant goalkeeper in that time.’ He is going to follow my career wherever I go. He wants to see me playing and to be happy.”

Klopp had no qualms in turning to Kelleher, who had performed so admirably for him in the past – particularly in the Carabao Cup, which yielded another winners’ medal last season – when 31-year-old Brazil international Alisson was sidelined by injury in February.

The Irishman, who will hope to get the nod for his country’s friendlies with Hungary and Portugal over the next week or so, stood in for 14 successive games, in the process proving he has what it takes to be a number one and bringing his future into ever sharper focus.

However, the South American was restored on his return to fitness and while his understudy makes no bones about the fact that his intention is to unseat him as Slot prepares for his first campaign at the helm, he is realistic enough to know that if he cannot, he may have to move to fulfil his dreams.

Kelleher, who was the subject of a January bid from Nottingham Forest and has since been linked with Celtic, said: “The season I’ve had, I’ve played a lot of games and had that taste this season of being a number one.

“Whether that’s at Liverpool or elsewhere, that remains to be seen. My main focus at the moment is to be number one.

“Obviously I love playing for Ireland. A big ambition of mine is to be the number one here – obviously that only comes hand in hand when I’m number one at the club as well.

“That plays a major part as well, in terms of helping my case to be Ireland number one.”

Wherever the summer takes him, Kelleher will embark upon the new campaign confident in his ability to play at the highest level.

LONDON, ENGLAND - Sunday, February 25, 2024: Liverpool's goalkeeper Caoimhin Kelleher lifts the trophy after the Football League Cup Final match between Chelsea FC and Liverpool FC at Wembley Stadium. (Photo by Peter Powell/Propaganda)

He said: “I don’t think there was any internal doubt from myself. I think anyone at Liverpool would be the same. It was more so me getting the opportunity to prove to everyone else that I’m good enough to play at this level.

“I was always waiting for that opportunity to get a run of games and yes, I think that was the main objective, to prove to everyone else.

“I always believed in myself I was good enough, but it was about showing to everyone else that I’m capable of playing at this level.”