Jurgen Klopp was so impressed with Mike Dean’s beard during the Merseyside derby on Sunday, he decided to call the referee ‘Father Christmas’.
That’s according to Sky Sports commentator Martin Tyler, who made the revelation live on air during Liverpool’s victory over Crystal Palace.
Dean was the man in the middle for the clash at Goodison Park, but was assigned the role of fourth official at Anfield on Wednesday night.
The Reds picked up the pace to move within two points of a first league title in 30 years after tearing apart Palace in a 4-0 win at Anfield
The returning Mo Salah provided the inspiration as he scored one – his 15th goal in 15 Anfield Premier League appearances this season – and laid on a brilliant assist for Sadio Mane.
A superb Trent Alexander-Arnold free-kick and a fierce Fabinho drive contributed to a comfortable victory which could easily have been greater, such was their dominance.
And the ease of their win allowed Tyler to let slip an anecdote he had heard at the weekend about Dean’s facial fuzz and Klopp’s reaction.
Although Tranmere fan Dean was wearing a mask for the game at Anfield, he managed to send social media wild on Sunday.
Twitter user @JackBaker1311 wrote: ‘Who saw Mike Dean growing a beard coming, what an unbelievable power play.’
Some, naturally, began drawing comparisons, with @roberthalshaw02 writing: ‘Mike Dean looks like he’s the next Call Of Duty villain with that beard and I love it,’ while Elliot Hackney added: ‘Mike Dean with a beard will steal your girl’.