John Achterberg

John Achterberg: Liverpool FC

A Storied Career in Coaching

John Achterberg’s tenure at Liverpool Football Club has been marked by dedication, innovation, and a profound influence on the careers of numerous goalkeepers. As he prepares to embark on a new challenge after a 15-year spell with the club, John Achterberg reflects on his journey and the relationships he has cultivated with the goalkeepers he has mentored. His career at Liverpool is a testament to his passion for the game and his commitment to nurturing talent.

An Impressive Roster of Goalkeepers

John Achterberg estimates he has coached around 30 goalkeepers during his time at Liverpool. This impressive number highlights his significant role in developing the club’s goalkeeping talent. Despite the vast number, he maintains contact with every single one, demonstrating the lasting bonds he has formed. “They all now and then text or I text them,” Achterberg shares. “There’s no-one I don’t speak to anymore. Even the ones from Tranmere, they still text like crazy.”

This ongoing communication underscores the unique relationship between a goalkeeper and their position-specific coach. Goalkeepers often work separately from the rest of the team, especially in the days leading up to a game, forging strong connections with their coaches.

Individualized Training and Attention

John Achterberg’s approach to coaching has always emphasized treating each goalkeeper with equal importance, regardless of their position in the pecking order. “I treated them all the same, I didn’t want the No.3 to feel less important than the No.1 because we all need them. If one is injured, you need the next one,” he explains.

This philosophy extended to his training methods. He recounts how he would train the No.3, No.4, and No.5 goalkeepers separately two hours before the main training session, allowing him to focus on the No.1 and No.2 for the upcoming game. “Obviously now with Jack [Robinson] and [Claudio] Taffarel being here, Taffa starts off with three, four and five and Jack joins him as soon as the warm-up is done,” John Achterberg notes. This adaptation ensures that every goalkeeper receives the attention and training they need to develop as individuals.

John Achterberg

John Achterberg

Nurturing Talent and Building Careers

The goalkeepers John Achterberg has coached have embarked on diverse journeys in the world of football. Some have won trophies with Liverpool, others are playing Champions League football elsewhere, and many have built solid careers in various leagues. Achterberg takes great pride in their achievements and continues to follow their careers closely.

“That’s always been the aim – to create for them a career as a goalkeeper,” he says. “That means [helping them] with what they have to do individually. It’s all individualized even though they work in a small group. If the No.1 and No.2 goes to the first team, we get to work with No.3, No.4 and No.5 on what they can improve on.”

Success Stories of John Achterberg

John Achterberg highlights several success stories, demonstrating the breadth of his impact. Peter Gulacsi, Kamil Grabara, Shamal George, Ryan Fulton, Andy Firth, Yusuf Mersin, Dean Bouzanis, and Martin Hansen are just a few of the goalkeepers who have benefited from his guidance.

“Peter Gulacsi making a good career. Kamil Grabara is doing well. Shamal George playing in the Scottish Premiership. Ryan Fulton plays in Scotland. Andy Firth playing in Wales. Yusuf Mersin played in Turkey and stuff like that,” he lists.

He also mentions Pepe Reina, whose career trajectory includes stints with Bayern Munich, Napoli, Villarreal, and Aston Villa after leaving Liverpool. “Reina was unbelievable in his distribution and his game-reading as well. It shows what a career he’s had – he’s still playing this year,” Achterberg observes.

Other notable mentions include Alexander Doni, Brad Jones, Marcelo Pitaluga, Vitezslav Jaros, and Harvey Davies. Each of these goalkeepers has found success in different leagues, a testament to Achterberg’s ability to prepare them for the diverse challenges of professional football.

A Strong Legacy at Liverpool

As John Achterberg departs Liverpool, he leaves behind a robust and healthy goalkeeping department. He expresses confidence in the current squad, declaring, “I think we have the best goalie squad Liverpool has had in its history.” He praises Alisson Becker as “probably the best in the world” and highlights the remarkable development of Caoimhin Kelleher. “Kelleher is unreal. When we signed him when he was 16, he was agile but technically not very good. He was not tall either, so you take a bit of a gamble. The development of that man has been unbelievable and how he has improved,” Achterberg elaborates.

Marcelo Pitaluga, Vitezslav Jaros, and Harvey Davies are other promising talents who have come through the ranks under Achterberg’s watchful eye. “Marcelo has been out on loan, Vitezslav has done really well. Harvey was U9 I think when we signed him and then made it up to the first team, played in friendlies,” he adds.

Looking Ahead

As John Achterberg bids farewell to Anfield, he does so with a sense of pride and accomplishment. He will remain a fervent supporter of Liverpool from afar, watching with keen interest as the goalkeepers he has mentored continue to flourish. His departure marks the end of an era, but the foundations he has laid will undoubtedly benefit Liverpool for years to come.


John Achterberg’s legacy at Liverpool is one of dedication, expertise, and a profound commitment to the development of goalkeeping talent. Over 15 years, he has nurtured and guided numerous goalkeepers, helping them carve out successful careers in football. His individualized approach to training and his emphasis on equal treatment have fostered strong relationships and lasting bonds. As he moves on to new challenges, Achterberg leaves behind a thriving goalkeeping department and a legacy of excellence that will be remembered for years to come.

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YNWA (You’ll Never Walk Alone)!
The Liverpool FC Times Team

By Jumana M M

Website writer for Liverpool FC Times

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