InterviewJürgen Klopp's message to LFC squad: 'This is special, I've never seen something like this before'

Published 26th July 2022
By James Carroll in Austria

Jürgen Klopp has told Liverpool's players and staff the strength of the team spirit and camaraderie within the group is something he has never experienced before in football.

Watch in full: Big interview with Jürgen Klopp

The Reds are currently preparing for 2022-23 at their training camp in the state of Salzburg in Austria, with most days consisting of double sessions for the squad.

The manager is delighted with the work that has been done on the training pitches in Saalfelden as he gears the side up for the new campaign; however, it's what has unfolded off it that has enhanced his optimism for the coming year.

Following the morning's training, players and staff were treated to an afternoon at the stunning lake in Zell am See on Sunday, where those in attendance could cool off in the 30+ degree heat by participating in a number of activities in the water.

Later that evening, the travelling party were taken via cable car to a restaurant in the mountains, where the traditional initiation ceremony took place, with new faces required to sing a karaoke song of their choosing.

It made for a memorable occasion for those in attendance, not least Klopp, who believes it reinforced his belief he is in charge of a 'special' team.

The boss sat down with Liverpoolfc.com at the team hotel on Tuesday afternoon to talk about the Reds' stay in Austria so far and name his favourite performances from the initiation night...

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Jürgen, it's day five of our training camp in Austria. How pleased are you with the work that's been done so far?

Very, very much. In pretty much all departments, on and off the pitch. It was exactly what we wanted after the intense period in Asia, which was good as well, but different obviously. Then the few days at the AXA we used quite well, coming here [we] did exactly what we wanted to do and so far, so good – cannot complain about anything. 

How important is a camp like this for creating the base for the season? It's all about the work, the football, here…

[There are] two things we try to improve here [and] both are from a pretty high level, to be honest. It's the way we play, it's what we are working at. Yes, there's a lot of stuff to improve. I know result-wise... it's crazy if you talk about results and say, 'Well, what do we want? Do we want 105 or 110 points, or whatever.' No. It's about how we react in specific moments; how we do the things we do more natural and from that point on how can we improve our decision-making in decisive moments, because even [though] we scored a lot of goals we were a lot of times in situations where – with slightly better overview with lesser hectic, or being in a rush, which is difficult in football especially – just using our structure in a better way, that's what we are working on.

On our defending, obviously, as well, because in all the good games we played I can't remember a good game we played without an outstanding counter-pressing performance. Sometimes it's not that obvious because we have so much possession, but always when we are really spot on in our high pressing, and counter-pressing, then we play a good football game. So, that's important and, of course, then off the pitch we didn't sign 20 new players, but we brought in three new boys. We have new young players in the squad as well and each group in the world can become closer with time – and that's what we try to do as well. It worked out pretty well so far.

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Pep Lijnders mentioned earlier in the week the atmosphere around the squad is giving him extra confidence going into the season. Is this something you'd agree with?

Yeah, 100 per cent. True. There are different things that the outside world could think about us. We are together for a while. Humans are like this [and] we could possibly take things for granted. It's like a long marriage – and if the butterflies are not that wild anymore, let me say it like this, then maybe you take things for granted. We want to make sure that we don't do that. You can see by just watching the boys, how they interact, you can really see that this is a special group. The new boys coming in were welcomed so warmly and friendly and open. If you could ask them, maybe you did already, if they say it was far more than they expected then it's 100 per cent the truth because I never saw things like this and I am in the business for a while.

It's really special and, yes, it gives you more confidence because all the other clubs out there, they will want to improve as well and it will not be easy, not a little bit. It will be much more difficult, rather. So, we need to make sure that we are a special team and the one team that nobody wants to play against, that we fight more for each other, that we feel more togetherness and all these kind of things. I think it's worth trying and that's why we do it.

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I think we all saw the togetherness at the initiation night. It was an interesting evening…

So, I'm not a social media guy, obviously, for five million right reasons how I see it. But that was a night each second should have been on a video, and we should've thrown it into the world and it would have been, 'What?! How is that possible?' It was completely spontaneous and not planned. We had this wonderful location up on the hill. Absolutely brilliant. It was a long day, usually it's like this, I was part of this as a player and as a manager, quite often it's tired from doing not a lot, let me say it like this, sitting around, OK, good food – we always have good food. Then we had the idea, we say, 'Why don't we do it here? Why don't we do the initiation night here?' 'Looks good, let's try.' The band who played the night made it possible for us from a technical point of view. Nice name – Son of Kurt. It was really good, they made it possible for us and then the rest was outstanding. Absolutely outstanding.

So, this night is then made, I think we all set it up for embarrassment that somebody goes up there and has to go through hell with the mic in your hand and you have to sing a song you cannot sing, you cannot whatever, you don't know the song, all these kind of things. But the atmosphere was great, with all the fun we had [it was] still respectful. There was some unbelievably good performances, so many unbelievable performances that we really enjoyed it and the time was flying. Nobody had a [look at a] watch, or whatever, it was just great. I had a big meeting last night and I told the boys [that] I never saw something like this. It's the truth. This is the basis we have to use. We as a group, the way we interact really with each other is something special, and we have to make sure we can use that for something big.

The end-of-party conga line before we came back to the hotel was pretty special…

Who was that? Son of Kurt? They felt the night as well. They were actually there performing the whole night, they were outstanding, then from a specific point on we asked them, 'Can we do karaoke?' So, they were like the side act and then the moment when we needed them most they were there again – unbelievable. And for the pictures as well, my mind is crazy. As I said, it's the first time in my life I thought, 'Yeah, we should have put that on social media.'

Did you have a favourite performance?

There were too many, too many. Yinka [Ademuyiwa] was great, absolutely, the kit man. Great. Brendan [McIlduff] was great as well. The boss! Billy Hogan! I have to say…

A false start, but then…

Yes! Wow, wow, wow. He was good as well. Lena [Aschenbrenner] looked like an angel, sang like an angel, then near the end, Dua Lipa… Dua and Lipa [Lorna and Shauna] – One Kiss Is All It Takes was really good. It's so difficult because you always thought, 'Oh my God. The next who is coming? How would we [top that]?' Unbelievable but it happened quite a few times. So, they were all just brilliant – but it's not about that, how we all know. You have to show some bravery to get there, everybody was nervous when they had to go there, that's normal. But the young kids, the self-confidence they have at that young age, I think that's a really good sign for the team as well. How the team let these boys grow next to them. Seventeen years old, Isaac [Mabaya], a little mic check! I couldn't deal with that. So, really cool, cool moments the whole night. 

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