Danke, Jürgen Klopp – nine years of making Liverpool FC dream

By Chris Shaw


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As so often, and in this case so fittingly, there’s a perfect German word.

Menschenfänger: roughly translated into English as ‘people-catcher’, a figure who by the strength of their personality attracts others to a shared journey and fills them with the belief anything can be achieved.

Sounds familiar, right?

Sounds like the absolutely ideal way to describe Jürgen Klopp and his impact at Liverpool FC.

“It’s quite frequent I got told that people see me like that,” he said recently. “I love people. I’m curious, I’m interested, I want to learn, I want to listen and I want to meet people and all these kind of things.

“But that’s all my view – and if on that way, people want to follow or want to be part of the group, they are more than welcome, definitely.

“That’s the only way I understood life my whole life. That gave me a lot of fantastic moments.”

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Klopp famously identified the need for such an injection of hope into the club immediately upon his arrival as Liverpool manager back in October 2015, acknowledging on his first day that he wanted to turn ‘doubters into believers’.

That mission has certainly been accomplished.

The Reds would only manage an eighth-placed finish in the league at the end of Klopp’s partial first season, but there was already the sense that a journey had begun.

Emphatic away victories over Chelsea and Manchester City early in his tenure had hinted at what was possible when the new boss’ brand of ‘heavy-metal football’ – founded on high energy, hard pressing and clinical attacking – clicked.

Two cup final appearances – Liverpool narrowly missed out in both the League Cup and Europa League that year – only underpinned the idea that the club was back on an upward trajectory.

As important as the development being seen on the pitch, however, was Klopp’s influence off it.

A frank, honest and wise communicator, his warmth of character and very human touch struck a chord with his newly adopted city. And he quickly harmonised players, staff and supporters into one very powerful whole.

“We try to create situations where everybody in the stadium and around the world who is interested in LFC feels really good,” he said. “And that it’s difficult not to have a smile on their face when they think of LFC. That’s what our first job is.”

The team’s steps forward continued in 2016-17, with qualification for a return to Champions League football achieved on the final day of the season at Anfield.

In had come the likes of Sadio Mane, Joel Matip and Georginio Wijnaldum, and the project’s evolution advanced with the addition of recruits including Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Andy Robertson and Mohamed Salah in the summer of 2017.

Perhaps even the ever-optimistic Klopp could not have forecast the thrilling run to the European Cup final that followed, though.

Spearheaded by the attacking trident of Roberto Firmino, Mane and Salah that would become so emblematic of this Reds side, they swashbuckled their way to Kyiv to the sound of Allez, Allez, Allez in the stands.

Another near-miss ensued, Real Madrid running out 3-1 winners on that May 2018 night, but within hours of the final whistle the boss himself was back on Merseyside insisting – singing, no less – that they would be back.

And he was right.

Bolstered further by the arrivals of Alisson Becker, Fabinho and Virgil van Dijk, and others – as well as the emergence from the Academy of homegrown star Trent Alexander-Arnold – Liverpool were outstanding in 2018-19, justifiably christened ‘mentality monsters’ by their manager.

The Premier League title cruelly eluded them, despite recording the rarefied figures of 30 wins, seven draws, just one defeat and 97 points, with Manchester City one point better.

But Champions League redemption awaited.

There was the miracle of Anfield, when a 3-0 semi-final deficit against Barcelona was overturned on one of the stadium’s greatest nights. Corner taken quickly, Origi, a 4-0 win and a ticket to Madrid.

There, inside the sweltering Estadio Metropolitano on June’s first day, swings of the left boots of Salah and Divock Origi at the beginning and end defeated Tottenham Hotspur and clinched Old Big Ears for the sixth time in club history.

An estimated 750,000 fans welcomed them home the next evening.

“I cannot really describe it because I cried a little bit as well because it’s so overwhelming what the people are doing,” said Klopp. “When you have a direct eye contact and you see how much it means to them, that’s touching, to be honest. It’s brilliant. It’s really special.”

It would not be the only alteration to the club’s honours list in 2019.

The UEFA Super Cup was lifted after a penalty shootout defeat of Chelsea in Istanbul, before a unique feat for the Reds: Firmino’s extra-time goal against Flamengo in Qatar got Liverpool’s hands on the Club World Cup for the first time.

Now reigning European and global champions a little more than four years after Klopp had taken the helm, the immediate next objective was to end the wait to be domestic champions again, one that had crept up towards 30 years.

Fortunately, their league form in 2019-20 was relentless. Ridiculous, really. The first 27 matches yielded 26 victories and one draw for Liverpool.

Twenty-six victories and one draw.

At that stage, they led the division by 22 points.

When Anfield sang ‘We’re going to win the league’ after a symbolic success against Manchester United in the January, belief had absolutely beaten doubt.

The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and a pause of the season delayed their confirmation as champions, but on June 25, 2020 it was done: Klopp and his team had delivered the title.

Overcome by the emotion of the achievement, the manager had to cut short a live TV interview as tears fell from his eyes.

“We share it with everybody out there as well because we are here, they are there, but we are all together,” he said. “My message is: it is for you out there. It is really for you. I hope you feel it.”

Jürgen Klopp: I'm one of you now - you're the best people in the world

ReactionJürgen Klopp: I'm one of you now - you're the best people in the world“I’m one of you now. I love you to bits,” declared Jürgen Klopp during his farewell speech to Liverpool supporters at Anfield on Sunday.

The Reds were unable to replicate that level during an injury-affected 2020-21 campaign played for the majority without any supporters inside stadiums.

But a late-season rally ensured they snatched third place in the Premier League, and laid the groundwork for a sensational – and such a close – attempt at a quadruple when fans returned the next term.

Three memorable trips to Wembley in 2021-22 saw the Carabao Cup and Emirates FA Cup added to the trophy collection, with Chelsea beaten on penalties in the showpieces of each and Manchester City outdone in the semi-final of the latter competition on a spring afternoon to savour.

They were exceptional in the league, losing only twice and accumulating 92 points, yet missing out to City by a point again after a dramatic last day.

A third Champions League final appearance in five seasons would also conclude in disappointment, with a 1-0 defeat by Real in any case overshadowed by the traumatic off-field events experienced by fans at Stade de France in Paris.

The power of the connection Klopp, his staff, players and the supporters had created was evidenced by half a million people turning out at a parade the next day in tribute to their efforts.

By now, the boss had reached seven years on Merseyside, emulating the length of his spells in charge of each of his previous clubs, FSV Mainz 05 and Borussia Dortmund.

But he would go beyond that with the Reds, while his impact here was reflected in his receiving the Freedom of the City of Liverpool in November 2022. “I was already really close with everything in Liverpool but it brought me even closer tonight,” he affirmed.

Those words came amidst a difficult season for Klopp’s side, who dropped to fifth place in the Premier League standings and could not mount a serious challenge in the cups either.

A reset and a rebuild was, consensus reigned, required. The launch of ‘Liverpool 2.0’, the boss described it.

And his new-look squad certainly gave us an exciting journey in 2023-24, overcoming injury misfortune and many in-game setbacks to mount an unexpected tilt at the title that faltered only in the campaign’s closing stages.

There was silverware, too, with a strong run through the Carabao Cup taking the Reds back to Wembley, where – with a helping hand from a crop of youngsters – they saw off Chelsea 1-0, an extra-time goal from Van Dijk the settler.

Klopp had previously announced, in late January, his decision to step down at the end of this season, signalling the stopping point of the longest Liverpool managerial tenure since Bob Paisley.

“I love absolutely everything about this club, I love everything about the city, I love everything about our supporters, I love the team, I love the staff. I love everything,” he said.

“But that I still take this decision shows you that I am convinced it is the one I have to take. It is that I am, how can I say it, running out of energy.”

Klopp continued: “For me it was super, super, super-important that I can help to bring this team back onto the rails. It was all I was thinking about.

“When I realised pretty early that happened, it’s a really good team with massive potential and a super age group, super characters and all that, then I could start thinking about myself again and that was the outcome. It is not what I want to [do], it is just what I think is 100 per cent right. That’s it.”

Almost four months on from that shock news, Klopp and Anfield said their final, emotional farewells on Sunday.

The meeting with Wolverhampton Wanderers – his 491st and last match at Liverpool – was, in truth, inconsequential against the backdrop of a day dedicated to Kopites’ desire to express their love and gratitude to the man, the Menschenfänger, who made them dream and believe.

Tears, of course, flowed again.

“This is a very, very special club,” Klopp had said earlier this month.

“I didn’t make them believe. I reminded them that it helps when you believe. That’s what I think. Everybody was ready to push the train and that’s what we did for eight-and-a-half years.”

And we enjoyed every minute of it.

We started with a German phrase and we’ll end with one too.

Danke, Jürgen. Danke schön.



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This article has been automatically translated and, while all reasonable efforts have been made to ensure accuracy, some errors in translation are possible. Please refer to the original English-language version of the article for the official version.