Virgil van Dijk hails 'world class' Liverpool teammate after Carabao Cup win

  • Liverpool won the Carabao Cup final with 118th minute goal
  • Caoimhin Kelleher kept a clean sheet by making nine saves
  • Virgil van Dijk was full of praise for his teammate afterwards
Caoimhin Kelleher underpinned Liverpool's win
Caoimhin Kelleher underpinned Liverpool's win / Mike Hewitt/GettyImages

Liverpool captain Virgl van Dijk hailed "world class" Caoimhin Kelleher in the wake of the Reds lifting the 2024 Carabao Cup trophy at Wembley.

The Irish goalkeeper has started throughout this season’s Carabao Cup run and, having previously thwarted Chelsea in a penalty shootout in the 2022 final, he once again put in a huge performance to keep the Blues at bay and give Liverpool the foundation to go on and win.

Van Dijk scored the winning goal in the 118th minute, but he was sure to show his appreciation for Kelleher, who made nine saves over the course of two hours on the pitch. Indeed, alongside his skipper, the 25-year-old was Liverpool's best player.

"I'm probably one of his biggest fans," Van Dijk told Sky Sports.

"I've always said he's world class and he stepped up today again. He's a good boy, good goalkeeper, and that's what we need at a club like Liverpool."

In a separate Sky Sports interview, Jurgen Klopp said: "Caoimhin was unbelievable. Such a mature performance. I say it often - we have the best goalkeeper in the world [Alisson] and the best number two in the world. I'm so happy for him. Top game."

Caoimhin Kelleher made nine saves to keep Chelsea at bay
Caoimhin Kelleher made nine saves to keep Chelsea at bay / Chris Brunskill/Fantasista/GettyImages

At 25, Kelleher was among the older Liverpool players. Injuries had seriously depleted Jurgen Klopp's squad and Bobby Clark, 19, James McConnell, 19, Jayden Danns, 18, and Jarell Quansah, 21, were all on the pitch at the end. Conor Bradley and Harvey Elliott, both 20, had also started the final.

"When you’re young and get an opportunity, you have to grab it with both hands. Obviously it's easier said than done, but the guys did it," Van Dijk explained.

"The culture of the club makes them do it as well and it's good to see. It should be just like a start [and] they should use it to kick on. I'm sure they will. Obviously, [more senior] players will come back in time, but they should just keep pushing to get close to the team and be part of the squad. To experience this as a 17, 18, 19-year-old only benefits you."