Philippe Coutinho nonetheless remembers the primary time he met Steven Gerrard at Liverpool’s coaching floor within the January of 2013.
‘I keep in mind I used to be very nervous once I noticed him,’ Coutinho advised Sportsmail. ‘He was an idol for me and everybody. I used to be very younger however he was so humble and all the pieces he did was so easy.
‘I used to observe him practice and the way he reacted in video games and did issues. For me it was a giant thrill to play with him.’
Philippe Coutinho has made his transfer to Aston Villa everlasting after initially becoming a member of on mortgage
Virtually ten years on and the connection between the Brazilian playmaker and his former Liverpool captain endures 100 miles south at Aston Villa.
It was Gerrard who introduced the 29-year-old again to the Premier League in January after troublesome years at Barcelona and Bayern Munich. Initially on mortgage, Coutinho is now a Villa participant for good after signing a four-year contract.
‘I name him boss now however he was at all times the boss,’ laughed Coutinho. ‘After I performed with him he was captain and chief. He was the membership. Now as a supervisor he’s nice.
‘He’s robust when he must be however he’s open to talk to as properly if you have to. All people right here respects and appears as much as him.
‘I got here right here to the membership in all probability as a result of he referred to as me. We spoke about many issues and he was the primary contact from the membership. I got here right here due to him.
‘I used to be at house when he referred to as and we did a Zoom and spoke about a variety of issues.
‘It did not take lengthy to resolve as a result of I wished to play and this was a giant alternative. Now I’m very joyful that I’ve signed.’
Coutinho performed with Aston Villa boss Steven Gerrard for 2 and a half years at Liverpool
Coutinho has at all times been an clever, intelligent and versatile footballer. When he left Liverpool for Barcelona in 2018 the Merseyside membership and their supporters have been devastated.
For Coutinho himself the intervening years weren’t all he had hoped. He struggled to search out his finest kind and was additionally aspect lined with a knee damage for 9 months. There have been, he admits, occasions when he feared he would by no means get again to his finest.
‘It was not the expertise I anticipated however life is like that,’ he defined. ‘The one time I used to be fearful was once I bought a foul damage. I used to be out for 9 months and had three surgical procedures.
‘That point I used to be fearful about going again to play once more and issues like that. However now all the pieces is regular and I’m very joyful and I simply wish to keep right here.
The Brazilian shortly agreed to affix Villa in January after talking with Gerrard over Zoom
‘I do not remorse something. It is all a part of life’s ups and downs. It was my dream to play at Barcelona since I used to be a toddler. However now it is prior to now and I’m wanting ahead to my future right here.
‘Additionally I realized lots in that point. It was a really troublesome time for me but it surely made me stronger in my head. From that time on it was essential for me. I missed it lots and now I really feel extra love for the sport.’
Coutinho has taken to life in Birmingham the place his three kids are already sporting Villa shirts.
‘They’ve ‘daddy’ on the again,’ he laughed.
Coutinho scored in opposition to Manchester United in his first sport again within the Premier League
That a part of the transition again to England did concern Coutinho and his spouse Aine just a little bit.
‘After we got here we have been fearful about colleges and issues but it surely’s been simple and they’re very joyful,’ he mentioned.
On the sphere, Coutinho was shortly and simply in to his stride. He scored on his debut in opposition to Manchester United at Villa Park however feels there might be extra to come back when he has the advantages of a correct pre-season this summer time.
‘I needed to keep in mind how bodily it’s right here,’ he laughed. ‘The primary few trainings and video games have been onerous however now I’ve managed to adapt.
‘I’ve been right here six months and hopefully after a full pre-season my physique might be higher. It was onerous originally however I get used to it now and it makes me joyful to see all of the followers in England once more.
‘It makes me really feel very joyful and it makes me wish to succeed extra and repay that on the pitch. Much more than regular.’
Villa face Manchester Metropolis on the ultimate day, whereas Coutinho’s previous membership Liverpool meet Wolves
Villa’s season will end tomorrow with the eyes of the world on them. Gerrard’s group journey to Manchester Metropolis understanding that even a draw might assist hand the Premier League title to Liverpool.
Villa have Liverpool connections in all places. Gerrard and his assistant Gary McAllister performed for them, as did Coutinho and gamers like ahead Danny Ings.
However Coutinho doesn’t falter when requested about the potential for any conflicting feelings.
‘It is an incredible sport to play,’ he mentioned. ‘However we wish to end properly in opposition to an incredible membership. And that is it. We at all times wish to enhance and do properly and end as excessive as we are able to.
‘I solely care about my new membership. I wish to play properly for them. I’ve had a variety of messages from Liverpool followers on social media however I do not take a look at it that a lot anyway. My focus is just on the video games we’ve.
‘Metropolis are among the best groups on the earth. It is at all times troublesome to play them. However we’ve performed them earlier than and performed properly and competed all through the sport.
The midfielder says he has had messages from Liverpool followers forward of Sunday’s key fixtures
‘That’s what we wish to do that time and compete on the identical stage.’
Some groups journey to golf equipment like Metropolis and Liverpool and purpose to restrict the injury. That has by no means actually been Gerrard’s manner.
‘No we wish to win all our video games,’ Coutinho added. ‘That is our rule. If it is eleven in opposition to eleven nothing is unattainable. We at all times play for victory.
‘The boss at all times needs me to play free and create issues. He does that with different gamers additionally.’
At house in Barcelona, Coutinho used to observe the Premier League on TV. Gone however not forgotten. He has performed in all 4 main European leagues – having initially joined Liverpool from Inter in Serie A.
Coutinho has performed in all 4 main European leagues however ranks the Premier League highest
‘It is a nice league,’ he nodded. ‘For me it is one of the best one. The video games are so aggressive and the atmospheres are implausible. The opposite leagues are nice however for me the Premier League is one thing completely different.
‘I hoped I’ll come again however I used to be by no means positive. At Villa I really feel joyful. All people on the membership has been so welcoming. We wish to enhance and we’ll.
‘The ambition is to complete excessive and play in Europe. Our followers deserve that. We wish to work onerous for that subsequent season.
‘For a very long time I used to be not very joyful enjoying soccer however I’ve felt happiness once more right here. That is why I made a decision to remain.’