There are some developments which are so left-field, so unconventional, they take even the most devoted supporter by surprise.
Claudio Taffarel, a Brazilian World Cup winner and the Selecao’s current goalkeeping coach, joining Liverpool as a third goalkeeping coach on Tuesday was one such event.
The 55-year-old will join current coaches John Achterberg and Jack Robinson in training the men between the sticks, and is reported to have been personally requested by No 1 star Alisson Becker – who signed a new six-year deal in the summer.
Claudio Taffarel (right) has joined Liverpool as a goalkeeping coach at Alisson’s request
Alisson currently works with John Achterberg (right) and Jack Robinson (background)
Taffarel currently works with Alisson with the Brazil national team, and will now balance his commitments between the two camps, having been shown around Liverpool’s training ground at Kirkby last week.
It is an unusual step. Most clubs, after all, have just one goalkeeping coach – Liverpool now have three.
Manager Jurgen Klopp explained his thinking behind the hire: ‘The idea is that, in our opinion, we have now in a lot of positions the best we can imagine.
‘In terms of goalkeepers, it means we have Alisson Becker, who for us is the best goalie in the world. We have Caoimhin Kelleher, who we really think is an exceptional, exceptional player.
(Right-left): Liverpool’s Caoimhin Kelleher, goalkeeping coach John Achterberg, Alisson, assistant goalkeeping coach Jack Robinson, Adrian, Andy Lonergan (no longer at the club)
CLAUDIO TAFFAREL’S CAREER
1985-1990 – Internacional
1990-93 – Parma
1993-94 – Reggiana
1995-1998 – Atletico Mineiro
1998-2001 – Galatasaray
2001-2003 – Parma
1988-1998 – Brazil (101 caps)
2014 & 2015 – Galatasaray (interim)
Current – Brazil & Liverpool (GK coach)
‘We have Adrian, who has shown his qualities since he arrived here. Then we have Marcelo Pitaluga, then we have Harvey Davies, so we have five goalies in different age groups, which is great but we want to have even more of these guys.
‘We want to build kind of our own philosophy in goalkeeping because we all agree it’s its own game, so that’s why we wanted to have another completely different view on it.’
With Taffarel, Klopp is sure to get a different view alright.
The Brazilian, who won the World Cup with his country in 1994 and was also in between the sticks for their run to the final at France 98, had a decorated playing career in which he recorded 101 caps and also won two Copa Americas.
His club career took him to Italy and Turkey as well as stints in his homeland, while he has also had two stints as Galatasaray’s interim manager.
Taffarel is no stranger, either, to controversy. Throughout his playing days, he showed clear instances of a short-fuse and his eccentric nature.
While playing club football in Brazil, he lost possession outside of his penalty area and hacked down an onrushing striker, before kicking the stricken forward on the floor – he was unsurprisingly given his marching orders by the referee.
Taffarel saves a penalty during the 1994 World Cup final victory against Italy in Los Angeles
Taffarel lines up alongside (left-right) Ronaldo, Leonardo, Roberto Carlos, Aldair and Cesar Sampaio before the World Cup semi-final against Holland in Marseilles in 1998
Another reason Alisson and Taffarel work so well together is the similarity in their playing style as a goalkeeper.
Before it was fashionable for goalkeepers to play out from the back and have confidence in their range of passing, Taffarel oozed coolness and composure – almost to the extent of showing off.
Numerous clips from his playing days show the goalkeeper doing flicks and tee-ups during matches, such was his ability and confidence in his own talent with his feet.
Yet his highlights came with the national team, particularly at USA 94.
Taffarel saved one penalty in the final shootout victory against Italy and was the player Brazilians ran to as Roberto Baggio skied his decisive penalty into the stands.
Roberto Baggio misses the decisive penalty as Brazil win their fourth World Cup in 1994
Three years later, Taffarel was in goal when Brazil won the Copa America. Then he also had a massive role to play at the World Cup in France in 1998.
He was the hero in the semi-final shootout victory against Holland, saving two penalties from Phillip Cocu and Ronald De Boer to send Brazil to Paris, swamped by players and backroom staff after his final save.
Yet he was powerless as a Zinedine Zidane-inspired France claimed their first World Cup victory on home soil.
In total, Taffarel played 101 times with the national team, making him Brazil’s most capped goalkeeper of all time.
Taffarel was the hero in Brazil’s semi-final shootout win against Holland at France 98
Yet he was powerless as Zinedine Zidane’s double led France on their way to victory in the final
Yet now, Klopp has spotted an opportunity to not only maintain the high standard set by £62m keeper Alisson, but improve the whole goalkeeping operation at the club.
The Reds boss added: ‘We spoke to Ali because two of the best goalies in the world are Brazilians and so we found a solution with bringing in Taffarel as a really nice addition to our whole coaching staff.
‘We really think it can give us just a different view again, to look at different things.
‘We really want to really be a proper goalkeeping school in world football and so that’s why we’re bringing in a third very, very experienced goalkeeper coach.’
Taffarel would have been impressed by Alisson’s first outing under his stewardship, in Wednesday’s relatively comfortable Merseyside derby victory against Everton.
The relationship between the 55-year-old and Alisson with Brazil was crucial to the coach’s hire
Klopp referred to how Taffarel works with two of the best keepers in the world in Alisson and Manchester City’s Ederson (centre) as a key reason for bringing him into the Anfield set-up
The coach could also work with Liverpool’s youth-team keepers. Last year Liverpool signed young stopper Pitaluga from Fluminense, who was highly rated by Alisson himself.
But, further down the line, it will be fascinating to now see how the coaching role with Liverpool’s goalkeepers evolves. For instance will Achterberg, a highly popular figure at the club with his encyclopaedic knowledge of goalkeepers, now have to take a back seat?
Either way, Liverpool have hired a man who has years of experience at the top of the game, with one of the world’s most famous teams. His influence can only be a positive.