Different soccer styles stretch across the globe, from American to German, British to Brazilian and all points in between.
In the eyes of Liverpool FC goalkeeper coach John Achterberg, the best keeper — and the one he tries to cultivate — is one who can thrive in any style. He offered some of those lessons to youth soccer players Tuesday night at the Shawnee Sports Complex.
The English Premier League coach made his way to West Virginia through his relationship with Kernell Borneo, director of the FC Alliance youth program’s North campus in Morgantown. Achterberg had been holding lessons in Morgantown and he and Borneo drove down to Charleston at the request of FC Alliance South director Adam Arthur, a Liverpool fan himself.
“I always like to do a little bit of coaching in the offseason, next to having a holiday,” Achterberg said. “So I said I’ll come over and do a bit of coaching with the kids.”
While he now guides EPL keepers, Achterberg started with Liverpool coaching the reserve and academy goalkeepers, so he has some experience working with younger players. At that age, he said the most important thing is to improve technical skills, to program the computer inside young players’ brains to think automatically about how they can improve.
Achterberg tries to build goalkeepers who are well-rounded, so they can succeed in any scenario.
“They have to be complete in every aspect of goalkeeping,” he said. “That means playing on the front foot, trying to intercept balls when you can, having good speed, good reactions and being agile. That’s what you try to teach, to be good in tactical knowledge.”
Achterberg likes offering lessons to younger players, getting them at the ground floor of their playing years. It has helped him become a better coach in the pros.
“It makes you think how you can develop goalies when you work with kids who are not as mobile or as coordinated,” he said. “You have exercises where you can improve them.
“But right now, I probably have the best job that you can wish for.”
Liverpool is on a roll these days. This past season, the team finished second in the Premier League and won the Champions League, its first trophy since the 2011-12 English Football League Cup. It was a nice time on Cloud Nine, Achterberg said, but staying at the top is no easy quest.
“Liverpool is a really big club,” he said. “Every place we go, the stadium is filled with Liverpool supporters. There were at least 1 million on the streets when we had the parade. It’s amazing to see the passion that’s there.
“You always want to win,” he continued. “At the moment, we’re in a good place, but you always want to win more. You have three or four mad days and then you go back to the normal reality, and you have to get ready all over again.”