Liverpool goalkeeper Caoimhin Kelleher used to star as a centre-forward while playing as a teenager, according to his former coach.
Kelleher became the hero under the Anfield lights on Tuesday with his performance against Ajax. In his Champions League debut, the 22-year-old put in an excellent performance to help the Reds into the last 16.
The Republic of Ireland stopper made a number of crucial saves, including one late on. He denied Klass-Jan Huntelaar’s powerful header from close range to keep the score at 1-0.
Speaking to the Liverpool Echo, however, Kelleher’s former coach has revealed how the player only became a goalkeeper around seven years ago.
Eddie Harrington, who used to mentor Kelleher for Ringmahon Rangers in the Cork Schoolboys League, has said that he used to star up front.
“Working alongside Alisson, who is one of the best keepers in the world, some of that is bound to rub off but you’ve got to remember that Caoimhin was an outfielder for many years,” Harrington said.
“He only went in goal at Under-14s level and that was only about seven years ago. That’s a massive transition. We taught him to pass it out from the back but he probably had the footwork from being an outfielder.
“He was a very good centre-forward and represented his county in that position.”
Harrington also revealed how Kelleher only changed positions after a “chance” request from his father.
Kelleher’s shock change of position
“For three or four years he was our centre-forward and it was only a chance phone call from his father to myself that changed everything,” he said. “We had an under-age goalkeeper who left as he didn’t want to play anymore.
“Ray, his father, called me and asked: ‘Will you put Caoimhin in goal?’ Myself and the other coaches like Kevin O’Leary were reluctant as we were going to lose our main striker.
“We said: ‘That’s a bit mad’ but we thought let’s take Ray’s word on this because he felt his boy could amount to something in the position as he had done a bit of training with him.
“We just threw him in and that was halfway through the Under-14s season. It’s weird how things work out, it got the ball rolling in that regard.”
Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp said that he picked Kelleher instead of Adrian for his ability on the ball.
However, his all-round performance has turned heads and sent a promising message to Liverpool’s academy ranks.