Jürgen Klopp’s last party with Liverpool – He turned doubters into believers

Coaching legend He turned doubters into believers: Jürgen Klopp’s last party with Liverpool

An idol, not just for Liverpool FC fans: Jürgen Klopp

© Kirsty Wigglesworth / DPA

The tears are inevitable: After eight and a half extremely successful years, Jürgen Klopp is leaving Liverpool FC on Sunday. The farewell in the home game against Wolverhampton should be a lavish celebration.

It began with this subtle sentence that will probably remain with him forever. “I’m the normal one,” said Jürgen Klopp on his first day at work at Liverpool FC. Almost nine anything but normal years later, one of the most emotional chapters of England’s most famous football club ends on Sunday. One last “You’ll never walk alone”, one last homage from the mythical Kop, one last lap of honor. “We all went from doubters to believers together. My message is: believe in it – and you will continue to change the world,” says Klopp.

Perhaps the 56-year-old would have liked an opponent with more sex appeal than Wolverhampton Wanderers when he said goodbye. But in the end it doesn’t matter. Because it will be Klopp’s party alone at the sold-out Anfield Road. He not only revitalized Liverpool FC, he took it emotionally to a whole new level. For the club he didn’t change the world, he turned it upside down.

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The all-inclusive package

Old companions of the Swabian are not surprised. “He changed Mainz, Dortmund and Liverpool. Not just the clubs, but also the cities and the people,” says Christian Heidel of the German Press Agency. The sports director of FSV Mainz 05 once made Klopp a coach and the two have a close friendship.

What sets Klopp apart is the encounter at eye level. He doesn’t see himself as a “Special One” like his counterpart José Mourinho. He is Kloppo, whether the person opposite is world star Mohamed Salah or someone at the supermarket checkout. “Even though he is much better known now than he was when we met 34 years ago, he is still himself – reliable, honest, dutiful and humorous,” emphasizes Heidel.

According to Heidel, as a coach, Klopp offers an “all-inclusive package” from football to social skills. This led to titles in Dortmund and in Liverpool too. The championship from the 2019/20 season should be highlighted here. The title that they had been waiting for on the River Mersey for 30 years and then couldn’t celebrate properly due to the corona pandemic. He still connected, made the pandemic a little more bearable and Klopp immortal.

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The special normal one

On Jordan Street, Klopp’s greatness is noticeable to everyone. Here, opposite house number 53 and a Bob Marley statue, in the middle of the trendy Baltic Triangle district, there is one of the first Klopp murals. The place has now become a small pilgrimage site for LFC fans, although it is no longer the only so-called “mural”.

Getting there also required conviction; there was no guaranteed success with Klopp’s arrival. “Liverpool was a big club before I came,” says the coach. “But it wasn’t clear that everyone wanted the same thing. Some were still living in the past. A big change was needed.”

The Klopp era reminded LFC of what it is at its core. The atmosphere of Anfield, great European Cup nights, cohesive solidarity. And if you succeed in doing that with the club, it spreads to the entire city. “He embodies the best qualities of this city,” says Mayor Steve Rotheram, going back to Klopp’s beginnings in the port city: “He wants to be the normal one, but he’s actually very special.”

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“Just go away”

“For us, Klopp is the Bill Shankly of today,” says Jamie Webster. The words of the musician and Liverpool fan, who is known beyond the city, are an accolade. After all, the Scot is considered the Reds’ over-coach, rose to the First Division, celebrated three championships and two European Cup victories in the 1960s and 1970s.

He was not the club’s most successful coach, which also applies to Klopp. But what Shankly has in common with Klopp is that he understood the club beyond the pitch. The fans, the history, the legends. There is now a statue of Shankly in front of the Kop, the stand of the hard core Reds fans. “He made the people happy,” it reads underneath. He made people happy. It couldn’t be more apt in Klopp’s case either.

And now? He doesn’t have a plan, emphasizes Klopp. That would tie him down too much; he just wants to enjoy a kind of freedom that he hasn’t had for decades. Meeting friends, traveling, watching football, completely neutral. At some point he will go back to work, but for now: “I’m not available. I’m just gone. We’ll see how long it takes.”

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