Schaffe, schaffe, Häusle baue: Loris Karius' Liverpool plan
Biberach an der Riss, the south-German town that Loris Karius calls home, sits a relatively short – in European terms, at least – two-hour drive from Glatten, where his manager Jürgen Klopp grew up.
In ‘The Seven Swabians’, a fairytale popularised by The Brothers Grimm, the people of this region are somewhat harshly characterised through the story of seven travellers who meet a grisly end thanks to their own ineptitude.
And, as Karius points out with a smile at the start of a sitdown with Liverpoolfc.com at Melwood, the unfairly maligned Swabians are also renowned across Germany for being ‘really tight with their money’.
Of course, neither of these traits could be reasonably assigned to Liverpool’s No.1 or his boss and, as the former suggests - “In terms of having the same character as the manager, I don’t really think so…” – the pair in fact have very little in common in terms of their personalities.
But there is at least one Swabian adage, taken from the title of a popular 1964 song sung in the local dialect by Ralf Bendix, that both men would happily ascribe to.
‘Schaffe, schaffe, Häusle baue’ (‘Work, work, build a house’) pays tribute to the ingenuity and diligence shown by Swabians in pursuit of their goals, and has been adopted as a motto by natives of the area.
As such, it is fitting that a shared desire to build something truly special through hard work saw Karius and Klopp's paths converge at Anfield in the summer of 2016.
And, when it comes to Liverpool, it’s not hard to work out their ultimate objective - the house to be built, so to speak.
As the ‘keeper explains: “I spoke to the manager a few times when I came here and we had really good conversations.
“He told me everything about the club; his first experiences, what he thought was different compared to Germany, how he enjoyed his time here.
“He gave me a really good feeling and, of course, I thought this is a manager who can really develop me as a young player.
“I believed in his plan, so pretty quickly I was sure that this was the club where I could take the next step.
“When I spoke with the manager we both agreed that the plan is to bring – eventually – the title back here because that’s what the club deserves and wants so bad.
“That’s what we said was the aim, so we’re working on it every day to not just look at the past but to be part of the history soon hopefully.”
Thankfully for Klopp, Karius had already shown the single-mindedness necessary to achieve such lofty ambitions during the early stages of his fledgling career.
The goalkeeper was just 16 years old when he took the decision to leave Bundesliga high-fliers VFB Stuttgart for Manchester City, a club on the up following Sheikh Mansour’s 2008 takeover.
And just two years later, with his path to the first team seemingly obstructed, Karius took another bold decision in returning to his homeland via a summer loan move to Mainz before making the switch permanent the following January.
For many players, the setback at City would be enough to sow seeds of self-doubt. Not Karius.
“I wasn’t worried at all,” he insists.
“I took a loan first and my decision was to leave permanently just based on that I wanted to break through to the first team.
“I thought I had a good chance at Mainz, I had a young coach who I thought believed in my development in Mainz and could see me breaking into the first team maybe not straight away but in the near future.
“In City, it wasn’t really clear. You had the England national team goalkeeper as a No.1 and I didn’t just want to sit around and wait too long and then maybe miss a chance or opportunity I would regret in the future.
“My plan was clear, I was 18 and said I’d take a step back to make the next step a bit later instead of waiting around.
“I took a little step back, played probably 100 Bundesliga games and then went on to a big club again. So, all in all, it was a good plan and worked out well.”
When the time eventually came to build on the progress he had made at Mainz, Karius once again evidenced the discerning nature so apparent in his on-pitch demeanour.
The Germany youth international’s judgement was not clouded by thoughts of a point-making return to the Premier League; rather his sole focus was on finding a club that represented the perfect fit.
He adds: “It’s not really just the league, the club has to be the right solution. I didn’t set the target that I had to be in the Premier League.
“Of course, it was something I maybe wanted to do but I was happy in Germany, I thought the league was really good there too, but the package [of] Premier League and Liverpool, I just had to do.
“It was the club that made we want to come here, not the league. All the history, it’s a great club with great tradition.”
Karius’ innate resolve has since received its sternest test.
The 24-year-old traces the struggles that blighted his first campaign at the club back to a broken hand sustained in pre-season, bemoaning 'probably the worst timing you can get'.
But now, as he nears the end of a second season that has seen him reclaim the number one jersey, keep eight clean sheets in his last 15 outings, and make some memorable saves, the German looks back on his lowest moments as key learning periods.
He says: “That’s how it is sometimes. The years before, it always went my way – I was never injured, played three years through in a row, always played good, no negative things at all.
“That’s part of being a professional football player, there can be a spell where it’s maybe not so perfect.
“It was a new experience but now I can say I learned a lot from the negative stuff and developed mentally as a person, took it with me and grew with it.
“Sometimes it doesn’t go so quick and as a goalkeeper you have to be patient and just wait for it.
“If I didn’t believe it then I would maybe have said in the summer that we need a solution but I believed in it 100 per cent, that’s why it was always clear for me to fight my way back into the team.
“I’m happy that I was patient.”
LFCTV GO: Karius brilliantly denies Bolasie in the Merseyside derby
With Liverpool set to face Roma in the first leg of a Champions League semi-final tie next week, Karius has the chance to cap a season of notable personal growth with the biggest prize in European football.
But, even should the Reds enjoy what would represent a dream end to the campaign, their goalkeeper’s sights will remain fixed on the plan he and Klopp set out almost two years ago, and the work required to make it a reality.
He explains: “I hope there’s more to come, I’m pretty sure there’s more to come because I’m 24 years old, so for a goalkeeper it’s still quite young.
“I think I can improve in every part of my game, I have so much time ahead and I think there’s space for improvement in every single direction.
“I’m working every day to get better, the games help a lot because you can’t compare training to games.
“I’m pretty sure there’s a lot of space for improvement still.”
Or, as they say in Swabia: Schaffe, schaffe, Häusle baue.