Naby Keita is honoured to take the number 8 shirt at Liverpool, as it was worn by one of his footballing heroes before him: Steven Gerrard.

In an interview with the Telegraph, Keita revealed that he wore a Liverpool shirt when he played football on the streets as a child, as his father was a huge admirer of the club and of Gerrard in particular.

Gerrard, now manager at Rangers, surprised Keita at Melwood as he presented the number 8 shirt to its new owner - something which Keita had not been expecting.

"When I came here that day I didn't know Steven would be at Melwood,” he said. "It was a surprise to me. It was exciting. He said, 'Everyone will be here for you, we're all going to help you develop'.

"I had watched Steven Gerrard growing up as a kid and admired him so that was a special day.

"We used to play in the streets wearing a Liverpool shirt. My dad had a love of Liverpool back then when I was 11 or 12 years old.

"I wanted to be like him. It couldn't be anyone else. He was always the boss of the team."

Despite Keita's obvious talent, Liverpool fans might be concerned about his discipline. He picked up three suspensions last season: two for red cards and one for accruing five yellow cards.

"I am aggressive in a positive sense," Keita said in his defence.


"My first mind-set is to defend well and not concede. As a midfielder, when you have sealed things up at the back, my job is to provide the ammunition for the strikers and forwards, to create opportunities. 

"Also, if I get a chance that comes my way, I want to take it and score. But I am a team player. I think about the team and the group always."

Keita will make his competitive debut when Liverpool kick off their Premier League campaign against West Ham on August 12.