- Alisson Becker was named The Best FIFA Men’s Goalkeeper
- Only conceded 27 goals in 51 Premier League and Champions League games last season
- Set to represent the Reds in December’s FIFA Club World Cup
After missing the first two months of the English Premier League season with a calf injury, Alisson Becker was back defending Liverpool’s goal on Sunday in a 1-1 draw away to rivals Manchester United.
Though still in just his second season at Liverpool, it will be hard for the Brazilian to improve on a near-flawless first year with the English club, with whom he won the UEFA Champions League title. And if that were not impressive enough, he helped Brazil to Copa America glory with some inspirational performances at the continental championship.
For all that, the goalkeeper, who has just turned 27, is looking forward to fresh challenges, including the current Premier League campaign and December's FIFA Club World Cup. Alisson discussed these and other topics in an exclusive chat with FIFA.com.
FIFA.com: You were recently recognised as The Best FIFA Men’s Goalkeeper 2019. How did it feel to be given that accolade?
Alisson Becker: My main goals in football have always been group oriented. Of course, helping my club win titles allows me to aspire to individual awards like these. Winning The Best was therefore a really great honour.
You were up against two very strong contenders for that award: Ederson and Marc-Andre ter Stegen. What qualities do they have that you’d like for yourself?
They are great goalkeepers and meet all the requirements for the position. I'd love to have Ederson’s long-range passing, it's amazing. From Ter Stegen, I’d like his explosiveness: he makes some great saves thanks to his powerful legs. I think those are their main strengths.
You’ve said on numerous occasions that you’re very grateful to your coach Jurgen Klopp for a great 2019. How would you describe him for us?
He’s a very authentic coach and really is the way he appears. He knows when to encourage players and when to be a little tougher. He’s a great motivator. His celebrations also help you release tension. For example, after our triumph against Everton, he bounded across the field and gave me a hug. It was an amazing moment.
Your transfer from Roma, when you became the most expensive goalkeeper in the world, was not without its controversy. Did that put more pressure on you?
In football you always have to deal with pressure. Actually, I was only the [world’s] most expensive goalkeeper for two weeks! But I knew it was a very big transfer, something out of the ordinary. That generated huge external expectations, but I didn’t demand any more from myself than I normally would – which is already a lot, regardless of my transfer value. For me, the most important thing is always to give your very best to help the team.
What would you say is the secret to staying on top?
Over and above the technical and physical requirements, in which I think I have a high level, for me the most important thing is the mental side. It’s essential for a keeper to be focused throughout the match. You can’t relax for a minute, or it can be fatal. Therefore, what I work on most is my concentration.
In practical terms, how do you try to improve?
I really like to watch goals from all the leagues so I can analyse what I’d do differently in the same situation. I like to see saves too – I've always been very observant. I try to learn from what other players do right and wrong.
How do you feel about the prospect of playing at the FIFA Club World Cup in December?
I'm excited about it. The club where I came through as a young player, Internacional de Porto Alegre, won it in incredible circumstances back in 2006. Along with the Libertadores, it’s the biggest title the club has won in its history. Since then that tournament has been a goal of mine, and now, luckily, I’m going to have the chance to enjoy it.
The teams still in contention to be South America’s representative at it will be whittled down further this week with the conclusion of the Boca Juniors-River Plate, Gremio-Flamengo Libertadores semi-finals. Who would you rather face in Qatar?
The team I’ve always dreamed of facing are Boca, but I'd like to do it at their Bombonera ground (laughs), because I think it's one of the most incredible stadiums in the world. That said, I'd love to play them at the Club World Cup too.
How would it feel to defeat Gremio, Internacional’s arch-rivals?
First, we have to play them before we can think about beating them! (laughs) The four semi-finalists are all very good. I love following the Libertadores. The standard is very high so whoever qualifies for the Club World Cup will represent South America well.