London (AFP) – Naby Keita says he is intent on becoming as great a player at Liverpool as the previous player to wear the number eight shirt, their iconic former captain Steven Gerrard.
Keita, who will train with the squad next Monday for the first time since he signed for a reported £48million ($63.4million) from Bundesliga outfit RB Leipzig last year, told LFCTV he was astonished when he realised it would be Gerrard presenting him with the shirt when he visited the club last August after the deal was agreed.
Gerrard, who wore the number eight shirt for 11 years and saw it not awarded to another player when he left for LA Galaxy in 2014, was then the club’s under-18 coach but has since moved into his first full managerial role at historic Scottish club Rangers.
“It was an incredible day for me. He gave me the number eight jersey. When it happened, it was a surprise and I didn’t expect it,” said Keita.
“When he came in, I looked and him and said ‘Wow’ because he is a legend. He is somebody who always showed respect, who gave his all on the pitch, somebody who is loved here.
“If somebody like that gives you his shirt number, it’s not to play around with, it is to try and do as much as he did — that’s my motivation.”