Liverpool midfielder Naby Keita had a Q&A session with fans on Friday and the Guinean midfielder fielded questions, ranging from how good Jurgen Klopp’s hugs are to his most embarrassing moment, with remarkable candour.
Keita’s set the pitch alight with his displays in his debut Premier League season with the Reds as Jurgen Klopp’s men have remained atop the league table since Matchday 1.
And the former RB Leipzig man got open with his new club’s fans in a Q&A organised by the club website.
Sadio Mane’s been in terrific nick too, but it appears that the Senegalese has got nothing on Keita when it comes to who the better dancer is.
“That would be me. Why? Because since I was a little lad growing up in Guinea, we always love to dance back home, and I’m someone who loves music myself.”
Sportstars are a superstitious lot, but Keita’s pre-match rituals will win him many fans, from rival clubs even, as he revealed: “Firstly, before every game, I always speak with my mum. She really encourages me a lot. Then once I’m out on the field, I say a little prayer for my team and for everyone on the field, both sides, so that nothing bad happens, no-one gets injured.”
“Yes, I do that every single game, pray for both sides so nothing untoward happens, like a bad injury.”
Footballers are on a strict dietary regimen these days, but luckily for Keita his favourite food is extremely healthy: “I like salad! Tomato, cucumber and lots of good things you can add in there, but in general I do like to eat a lot of salad.”
Coffee vs tea is an age-old debate which doesn’t look like will get resolved anytime soon, but Keita seems to have settled it with his answer: “Tea, no milk or lemon, but mint tea.”
The central midfielder is seen as a family man and it didn’t come as a surprise to see the best advice he received was from a member of the Keita clan: “I remember some advice from my dad.”
If I’d lost a game he would call me and say, ‘It’s always been like this, even the very best have to lose now and again, you need to be strong and not get too down and give up. Just keep up the hard work.”
Most foreign players struggle to keep up with the pace of the Premier League and the notoriously fickle British weather, but Liverpool fans will be happy to know that Keita’s at peace with the latter:
“It might rain a lot, but that’s something that I can accept right now. I’m here to play football, but hey, if it rains it’s just part and parcel of being here and it is what it is. We don’t have a choice in the matter.
People told me about the cold in winter, but yes, once again it’s all part of our job as footballers, we have to just accept it and get on with it. Now, the weather is good.”
Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp is known to be a serial hugger after matches and when asked how it felt to receive one from the gregarious German, Keita responded, “He gives everyone hugs. I like him. He’s someone who, how can I put it, well, he treats everyone the same. All the players are equal for him, he’s close to everybody, I see him at training, and even with the guys who aren’t playing at the time, he’s the same with everyone.
If you get a hug after the game, it means that we’ve won the game and also that you’ve done a good job too I reckon.”
When asked about his most embarrassing moment, Keita revealed this tidbit:
“One time at Salzburg, we were on our way to a game and I always preferred to take my match boots with me rather than handing them to the kit-man to take with him. So this time I forgot to take them with me as we left.”
Fortunately, he had a spare pair with him, but he said nothing in order to make me sweat a bit! So I was stressing about it as I was starting and I looked all over and I had nothing with me! I was a bit worried, everyone was looking at me! Then in the end it turned out he had a pair for me. Everyone knew about it too!”
Retirement may be a long way off for the 23-year-old, but the Guinean has a few things in mind, as he elaborated on is post-football plans: “The plan I have in my head right now for when I retire is to go back to Guinea and set up something that will help young kids back home progress and maybe find their way to play football in Europe, like I myself have done.”
Keita may be all business once the match starts, but he’s up for a bit of a laugh before the game and he’s got taken a liking to a certain American comedian: “I like comedians in general and they make me laugh.”
Even before the game sometimes I might watch a few clips which make me laugh as that then helps me to relax. I like Kevin Hart.”
With the international break ongoing, Liverpool will next be in action when they take on Tottenham Hotspur (September 15).