Jon Flanagan today spoke of his gratitude towards Jürgen Klopp and his family’s pride after he signed a new long-term contract with Liverpool.
The 23-year-old, who returned to action earlier this year after 20 months out with injury, put pen to paper on his new deal at Melwood on Friday afternoon.
Immediately afterwards, the full-back sat down with Liverpoolfc.com to outline his appreciation for the faith shown in him by Klopp and explain why it was a proud day in the Flanagan household.
Jon, firstly, congratulations on signing a new long-term deal with Liverpool. How does it feel?
It’s brilliant. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do since I was a child. I think this is my third professional contract now, so I’m really pleased.
Is it a maybe a little bit more satisfying for you given everything you’ve gone through with injuries over the last couple of years?
Definitely. I think I’ve been through a lot in the last two years with the injury and everything else around it, and maybe a few people thought my future was in doubt and stuff like that. But I’ve worked hard and this is just a bonus at the end of that.
Has that made you more determined, to prove people wrong and comeback and earn this contract?
Of course, yes. It’s driven me on even more. Any doubters who have said I was finished and stuff like that, it has made me come back stronger.
I think we’d all agree you’re most certainly not ‘finished’ – and I think the Kop would agree, too. They were even singing your name when you came back…
Definitely, I’m not finished just yet! For the fans to sing my name and gee me on like that is fantastic for me.
And the fact you’re a Liverpool fan must make it all the more sweet for you…
For me, my friends and all my family, we’ve worked so hard and so we’re just all over the moon and it’s a good day for us!
You mention your family there, your dad was here with you today when you signed your contract. What’s he said to you? How is he feeling?
He’s very proud! I think he is just like me – he’s delighted. I think it’s a proud day for him as well!
Jürgen Klopp has said that he became involved in the negotiations and was very keen for you to stay at Liverpool. What kind of role did he play?
He’s been massive. He’s been a brilliant help. When he came in, I was injured but he’s stuck by me you could say. He’s had faith in me and when the time has come, he’s put me in and had faith in me. I can only thank him.
That faith must be priceless?
Definitely. It’s always nice to come in and see the manager has faith in you from day one since I’ve been fit. That’s a massive boost for me – it’s great.
What kind of character is he with you? We see him from the outside, on the pitch with the lads at the end of games for example, but what’s he like with you in the dressing room and on the training pitch?
He’s exactly the same. He is brilliant to work with. Every day he is on it in training. You might see the funny jokes and things like that with the media, but he is on the ball every day with all the lads, not just me.
Given his reputation and his CV within the game, is he someone you – and others – can learn from?
Yes, he’s a very successful manager – everybody saw what he did at Dortmund. Everybody is learning from him and taking what they can from him.
So, back in the team… New contract… What’s the next step?
I think to just keep progressing and hopefully play as many games from now until the end of the season, get a little run going and hopefully stay in the side. And then push on.
There’s a real feeling around the place that we’re on the cusp on really kicking on under the manager and being successful. It must be exciting to know you’re going to be a part of the future here?
It’s very exciting. For the manager to show his faith in me and give me this contract means it’s an exciting time. The lads are on a good run at the minute, so hopefully that can continue.
I’m going to put you on the spot here, but if we were sat here again in one year’s time, what do you hope to be saying? What do you hope to have achieved?
Hopefully we’ll be in the Champions League by then. We’re on a good run and if we keep taking each game as it comes, maybe we’ll have a chance there. Personally, I hope to get more game time and see what happens from there.
Will you be setting yourself any targets for the next 12 months?
Just to try and play as many games as possible – with no injuries! I think they’re all past me now, so it’d be just playing as much football as possible.
And what about later down the line? Maybe England? You obviously went away with them a couple of years ago and made your debut. Is that something you’re looking at longer-term?
Definitely. I went and had that bit of experience with them before the World Cup and it was brilliant. I’d love to go back there again, but I’ve got to show in my performances I can get back to that level and then who knows?