Cape Town - New Liverpool number eight Naby Keita has revealed that Steven Gerrard, who occupied the jersey during his time at the club, was his childhood hero.
To Keita's surprise, Gerrard was present at his Liverpool unveiling. The 23-year-old midfielder was left reminiscing about all the days he spent trying to emulate the current Rangers boss during his youth.
"[My father] has spoken to me loads since I signed for Liverpool about how much he loved them. As a kid, we used to play wearing a Liverpool shirt in the streets. He had that love of Liverpool then," Keita told reporters on Friday.
"Because I'm a midfielder and Gerrard was always the boss of the side, it couldn't be anyone else other than Steven Gerrard -- that's who you'd be when you were playing, wanting to be like him."
Keita, who signed from RB Leipzig, revealed the words of encouragement which his idol gave him at the presentation.
The Guinea international said: "It was a big shock. Steven said: 'Everyone's going to be here for you, to help you develop'
"I'm aware it's a big number here and I'm very excited to wear it. But it's also something I'm not going to put any extra pressure on myself with."
Liverpool finished fourth for the second consecutive Premier League season in 2017/18 and made the Champions League final, where they lost to Real Madrid.
Having re-established themselves as one of Europe's clubs to watch, the Reds will be hoping that Keita can help them soar to and beyond the heights they reached with Gerrard in his prime.