Loris Karius has come a long way since his fledgling football career began with him playing as a striker – and the 23-year-old is determined to match the new expectations he is meeting as a Liverpool goalkeeper.
The German joined the club from Mainz in the summer after making almost a century of Bundesliga appearances, and has been between the posts for seven Reds matches.
After featuring in last Sunday’s 6-1 home victory over Watford – which moved Jürgen Klopp’s side to the top of the Premier League – Karius spoke at length with Goal.com about his career development, the manager and much more.
Read on for a summary of his key points…
On joining Liverpool…
When I heard Klopp wanted me, I was really excited because it felt like a huge reward after everything I’d been through, and also because I know how hard the manager works for success. I was watching Liverpool already, like many people in Germany, who wanted to follow what he was doing in the Premier League.
You could already see last season the way of playing at the club changed and even though the results now and then weren’t always as good as what people wanted, you could notice what he was building and that the team was stronger. I knew that in the summer, with the time he had to create his team with transfers and pre-season, that he would really transform Liverpool. I believed in everything he told me. I had a really good talk with him, and it was not a hard decision to make.
On adapting to his new team…
There are a lot of differences. Of course, I don’t really get many shots at me, but I don’t really see this as a problem because you always need to be switched on in the game.
Sometimes, especially in the beginning, maybe we would need to play short in a situation where I would never do it at Mainz. I wouldn’t have played the ball because I knew we would struggle to get out of that space. At Liverpool, though, with all the quality and talent we have in the team, we can deal with really tight spaces so I have to remember in my head that it’s possible now, when before it wasn’t.
I need to get used to these kind of changes and it will happen quickly, but that’s why I sometimes still make the wrong choice – I’ll maybe kick the ball long when we could have gone short and it won’t look too good, but as we all develop together, it will become automatic.
For example, against Watford we had a really good mix of play. We had nice build-up from the back, but also went long and got success that way too. The more games I get, the more I understand each player and what it is they really want in each situation and how I can help them. At the start, you don’t really appreciate just how many different things you can do when there’s so much quality in the squad, but the more we try stuff together, the better we will all get.
On the size of the club and expectations…
You actually don’t realise until you’re here how big this club is, followed by millions all over the world, and everyone wants to understandably have an opinion because of their passion.
You can read about it and be told about it, but you only feel it when you get here. In Mainz sometimes when we lost a game, people would say ‘Don’t worry, all good, we’ll do better next time’. Here the expectation is very different, very high and that is good because we expect only the very best for ourselves too. Of course, it is a new experience to have so much coming your way at once, but it is brilliant to have so many supporters everywhere who love the club and want the best for it.
It is motivation for us as players and we must use it. What they expect of me is no less than I expect from myself. I want to be my very best for Liverpool.
On how he became a goalkeeper…
When I started, I was a striker for the first few months. Our goalkeeper didn’t show up once, and the team was asked who wanted to fill in for him. No-one really wanted to, but I thought it would be an interesting challenge, so I agreed to do it. We played in a tournament and I did really well in there, our team looked quite strong and after that when I wanted to return to playing out, the coaches said ‘No, you’re too good in goal so we’re going to keep you there’. From then on, I’ve been a goalkeeper permanently and as I grew in the position, I really enjoyed everything about it.
On working with goalkeeping coach John Achterberg…
It’s very important to have a great bond so you can trust each other, can talk to each other and work on the big and small things together. John is a funny guy, but very serious when it comes to his work. He is so passionate and it’s a good mix, because not only is he a nice person, but in training he demands everything from you.
We have a strong relationship and if there’s something I think I need, I will tell him and he will help me with it, and if there’s something he thinks I need, he lets me know and we discuss everything, which is very healthy.