Not much flusters Coutinho, whom The Kop has christened O Magico (The Magician), but before Liverpool’s tussle with Manchester United last month he and Lucas Leiva were given the chance to meet Brazil’s most famous son. Spending time with Pele did not disappoint.
‘It’s the ultimate honour because Pele is the greatest player of Brazil and probably the world,’ says Coutinho. ‘We only spoke for a little bit but he asked us how things were. Yes, I got a photograph. I’m going to keep it alongside the one I have with Ronaldinho.’
In terms of looking for sources of inspiration, Coutinho could hardly choose two better. His ambition is to follow in their footsteps and make Brazil’s fabled No 10 shirt his own but, before then, his first task must be to dominate Anfield’s landscape.
There is no doubting Coutinho’s class. Look on YouTube and you will find footage of him bamboozling opponents as a 10-year-old in Rio de Janeiro. A decade on and the same tricks and shimmies are flummoxing defenders in the Barclays Premier League.
During Monday’s 2-0 dismissal of Newcastle United, Coutinho produced one moment of skill - a step-over and dummied pass all in the same movement - that prompted Brendan Rodgers to applaud. ‘When you see the manager trusts you and gives you a lot of confidence it makes you play even better,’ says Coutinho.
Since the turn of the year, Coutinho’s form and confidence have risen dramatically. There have been a number of spectacular moments, particularly in the FA Cup - his goals in replays against Bolton Wanderers and Blackburn Rovers are the reason Liverpool travel to Wembley to face Aston Villa in the semi-final on Sunday.
Rodgers feels the resurgence of Coutinho, who is on the six-man shortlist for the PFA Player of the Year, comes from him feeling settled after signing a new long-term contract at the beginning of February. The 22-year-old does not disagree with his manager.
Unlike the situation surrounding Raheem Sterling’s negotiations, the discussions for Coutinho were straightforward. ‘Liverpool have always shown a great warmth to me so when they came to me with a proposal I did not need to think twice,’ he says.
‘I have always been looked after very well by this club and I am very happy here, so I didn’t even have to think about it. My mind is at Liverpool.’
And so on to Wembley. Again Coutinho expects to feel ‘the creeps’ at one of the sport’s most iconic venues but he is also aware of how imperative it is to deliver.
He says: ‘We will try to finish the season on a high but games like this are always tough. We have to start well, do our best to play our game. It would be important to win the cup, not only for me, but for the club. That would be a massive achievement.’
Original source: Coutinho's taking tips from Pele