It is the 36th game of their Premier League season and Liverpool, in a late charge towards the Champions League places, are out in the Midlands. Needing a win, they’re even when the game goes into the 95th minute. And then the goalkeeper becomes the scorer. West Bromwich Albion suffered the indignity of conceding Alisson in 2021. History is unlikely to repeat itself at Leicester on Monday, even if it falls on the eve of the second anniversary of the only goal scored by a Liverpool keeper. But once again, they aim for the improbable, buoyed by memories of him.
“A lot of times when I search for news on Twitter, that target shows up on my timeline,” Alisson said. “This week I already saw it. It’s good, it made me feel good. It makes me think how crazy it is to have scored a goal. It was kind of a sign to us that something special was coming. Because I can be 100 times in the box, I don’t know if I’ll score again. I know I can head the ball in a good way now, but I hope we don’t need it again. I think this season we are having special moments, [Diogo] Jota’s goal is very special against Tottenham; Last minute too.”
Finish in the top four and Alisson may become the architect of another great escape, albeit in a more conventional way. He has been overworked and outstanding. He entered the weekend with the fifth-most saves in the division and having prevented the most goals, according to goalkeeping statistics related to quality of chances.
“Sometimes the goalkeeper’s performances come when the team isn’t playing as well and conceding more chances,” he reflects. That has been the case this season; he is the favorite to be named Liverpool’s player of the year. He already has a memory; Jurgen Klopp gave him a shirt with the ‘100’ on the back, marking his century of a clean sheet at Liverpool.
“The goal is special, but clean sheets are better,” said Alisson. There are, wait, many more to come. “One hundred is a lot for me now, but compared to the great goalkeepers in Liverpool’s history, it’s not even 50 per cent of what they achieved. They got more than 200 clean sheets.” He is the seventh goalkeeper to record 100 for Liverpool, but it may be a table that even he can’t top. Not when Ray Clemence recorded 323 shutouts and Bruce Grobbelaar another 267; he helped the Anfield greats make 665 and 628 appearances respectively.
“I don’t know if I can play as many games as they do,” said Alisson, currently at 229. “I think Ray had over 600 games for Liverpool, but I’m already looking forward to the next 50 or 100 clean sheets. , and for the next in the next game we have. It would be special to be next to them or beat them, I really admire what the great goalkeepers did, but I am writing my own story here in Liverpool.
That story is nowhere near its final chapter. Alisson is still only 30 years old and has a contract until 2027. However, his commitment stems from much more than a contract. Alisson’s father, José Agostinho Becker, drowned in 2021. Lockdown restrictions prevented him from returning to Brazil. Instead, his family from Anfield offered support.
“I never imagined going through a moment like this in my life,” he recalled, with a tear in his eyes. “Nobody thinks about losing their mom or dad all of a sudden, but a lot of people at the time were losing their loved ones in times of Covid and I think the world was in a place where everyone was ready to show love for people. Not just at Liverpool, although the guys here at the club were amazing: I think they felt my pain together.
“I was at home for three days after my dad passed away and I really wanted to come back here, to this place, because I already felt the love. Not only here but from the world of football, I was very touched. I received so many letters from coaches, from clubs that I never imagined I would receive.
A couple of months later, Alisson emerged in the West Brom box to score a goal that led Liverpool down a road that ended in the 2022 Champions League final, which almost brought the quadruple. Now, once again, there is hope that a difficult campaign can end on a high. “We are having similar challenges,” he said.
And if there is unlikely to be a similar solution, another header from Alisson, his shutouts offer the possibility of further success. “Keeping the sheets clean keeps you closer to winning,” he said. So does his link to Liverpool. “When I signed a long-term contract at this club, I thought a lot at this moment that everyone was there for me and I have a feeling that I also want to be here for the club,” he said. “To continue making history, maintain this environment that we have as a family.”