Joel Matip has a restless personality when it comes to self-improvement and professional success.
The centre-back has already reached the highest heights during his spell at Liverpool, which is now into a sixth season, having won the Premier League and Champions League with the club.
Jürgen Klopp’s side are laying promising foundations so far this term, too.
A resounding 4-0 victory over Arsenal last weekend returned the Reds to winning ways in the Premier League, and they host FC Porto in the European Cup on Wednesday night with their place in the knockout rounds already assured.
Matip has been a key component of the team’s form during 2021-22, starting 14 out of 18 matches in all competitions.
In an interview with UEFA ahead of this week’s Champions League fixture, the No.32 explained why his desire to develop and achieve – both day to day and in the long-term fight for silverware – remains as strong as ever.
“The motivation is always there. You have to do it again and prove it,” said Matip.
“That’s what it’s all about. You can’t say that you want to stop after a good game. You always want to show it. Thus, once you’ve won it you always know how it feels and this gives you the power to walk the extra mile because you know how it feels to lift this trophy in the end. That’s why you want to stick with it.”
The 30-year-old added: “Usually, I’m very critical about my own performances, I’m never really satisfied with myself. If I had to make a list of things I’d improve about myself, we’d be here for a long time.
“So, I’m never really satisfied. But you have to view everything within the right context. I’m far from a perfectionist, but neither am I ever satisfied. I think that’s a good way to improve yourself because satisfaction is not, if you look at it that way.
“Of course, you have to be happy with what you’re doing. Not everything always works, but you have to keep trying and have the bravery to try things that maybe didn’t work before, or where you are not as confident.
“You have to improve and ask yourself what you can do to improve even more. There is nothing about myself where I’d say, ‘You are perfect at this, you don’t have to work on that anymore.’ That’s not how I work.”
After both players missed extended periods of the last campaign due to serious injuries, Matip and Virgil van Dijk have reunited in central defence for much of this season.
The pair are benefiting from the length of time they have been teammates, believes Matip, though – true to character – he feels there is further space for improvement.
“I think we have many good centre-backs, but you get to know your teammate better with every match and understand how he will react,” said Matip.
“It’s a process that takes some time. If the two centre-backs have high individual quality and play together well, the results will be positive in the end.
“It’s a development that won’t happen overnight, but we’ve been playing together for quite some time, and I think we can build on that.”
Liverpool have won each of their opening four fixtures in the Champions League group phase this season – a first for the club – to guarantee top spot ahead of AC Milan, Atletico Madrid and Porto with two games to spare.
After tomorrow night’s visit of Porto, the Reds journey to Milan next month, and Matip insists Klopp’s men have plenty to play for in both contests despite not needing the points.
He said: “It’s always hard and you never know how it will go. It’s a very tough group, we’ve done very well up to now, but it’s not over.
“We still have to play two games, which we want to complete successfully. We have not lost focus – that would be bad, we’d lose our flow. We always try to keep being focused on what’s next. You have to start from zero again and give 100 per cent again.
“I think it would give us more self-confidence for the next round. Every loss, [it] doesn’t matter how it came to be, doesn’t really help, even if you could learn a few things from them.
“Nonetheless, you should always go into the game with the mindset to win, to be ready and to make the most of the situation and be on the right path. Losses don’t really help there, unless you learn from them, but I’d prefer to do without them and would rather learn from victories.”