Jurgen Klopp: A “normal guy” who wrote the most inspiring story in Merseyside

  • Jurgen Klopp took over Liverpool in transition. 
  • There were some tough losses that made the wins much sweeter 
  • Left a lasting impact on the club as a legend in the game
Liverpool FC v Wolverhampton Wanderers - Premier League
Liverpool FC v Wolverhampton Wanderers - Premier League / James Baylis - AMA/GettyImages

In 2015, on a typical overcast morning in Merseyside, a beaming blonde man, accompanied by his wife, stepped out of a black Mercedes van and briskly walked into Anfield Stadium.

From taking a photo under the “This Is Anfield” sign in the players' tunnel to wandering around the center of the pitch, he was like a child exploring new things, full of wonder and excitement on his face.

Later, in a somewhat dusky press conference room, all the spotlights focused on this charismatic man with thick stubble adorning his cheeks. His eyes sparkled, and he occasionally flashed a warm smile in front of the cameras.

This was Jürgen Klopp’s first press conference with Liverpool, announcing his arrival and ambition after taking the Reds job.

Coming from Stuttgart in southern Germany, Klopp left his position at Borussia Dortmund, a team he had coached for seven years, to take over the struggling Liverpool, which had finished an embarrassing sixth in the league, missing out on all European competitions.

I'm a very normal guy from the Black Forest. I'm the normal one,” Klopp responded humbly when a journalist, referencing José Mourinho's self-description as "the special one" upon his arrival in the Premier League, asked how Klopp described himself.

Despite his dazzling experience of promoting Mainz to the Bundesliga and elevating Dortmund to new heights, Klopp took the task of rescuing Liverpool seriously with quiet confidence.

This was the beginning of a legendary journey. From that point on, the anthem You'll Never Walk Alone rang out louder than ever, echoing across Europe and beyond.

Previous Failures in Finals

Klopp became known for his passionate characteristic, often acting as the emotional catalyst that drove his team to victory.

Klopp consistently emphasized team effort over individual performance. He would personally lead his players to thank the fans in the stands, injecting a unique team culture as his first step in unifying the fragmented club.

Moreover, Klopp revolutionized the team’s tactical approach. He introduced high-intensity pressing as the cornerstone of Liverpool’s tactical philosophy.

Over time, the team’s tactics became more versatile, allowing Klopp to adjust his strategies based on each game’s requirements.

From an initial 4-2-3-1 formation to a more fluid 4-3-3, Klopp allowed creativity in wide areas while maintaining defensive solidity in midfield. This tactical adaptability was crucial, and under Klopp’s guidance, Liverpool became adept at controlling possession and launching counterattacks.

In his first season, despite finishing a disappointing eighth in the league and missing out on European competition, Klopp led Liverpool to the finals of both the League Cup and the Europa League.

However, the team fell short, losing to Manchester City and Sevilla, respectively. Though losing two finals was disheartening, Klopp and his team did not falter. The road to Liverpool's resurgence was just beginning.

"We will use this experience and come back stronger, a hundred percent,” Klopp said after the Europa League final. “The guys tried everything, and we didn’t get it tonight. But, like I said, we will come back.”

In 2016, the club signed Sadio Mané from Senegal. With Mané's impressive left-footed shots and Roberto Firmino leading the frontline, Liverpool's attacking prowess reached its next level.

The team no longer feared the Premier League giants, defeating Arsenal 3-1 and Manchester City 1-0.

Without the pressure of European competition, Liverpool concentrated more on the league, securing a fourth-place finish and a return to the Champions League. Though the 2016-17 season seemed unremarkable, qualifying for the Champions League set the stage for Liverpool's future glory.

In the 2017-18 season, Mohamed Salah scored 44 goals in all competitions, becoming the team's top scorer.

Under Klopp’s guidance, he formed a threatening frontline with Mané and Firmino, helping Liverpool do the double over that season's Premier League champions Manchester City and onslaught Italian giants Roma in the Champions League semi-final to reach the final.

However, facing Real Madrid in the final, Liverpool swallowed a 3-1 defeat in Kyiv, Ukraine.

Adding to the heartbreak, Liverpool amassed 97 points the following season, only to finish as runners-up to Manchester City by a narrow margin, making them the highest-scoring runners-up in Premier League history.

The Comeback

Repeatedly falling short of glory tested the team's confidence, but it didn't diminish Klopp’s ambition to dominate the football world.

Having endured several crushing defeats, Klopp understood that only by building on a solid foundation and giving everything could they achieve great success.

Inserting this mindset to the team, Klopp led Liverpool to excel in Europe. In the knockout stages of the Champions League, they overcame Bayern Munich and Porto to reach the semi-finals, where they faced a formidable Barcelona side featuring Lionel Messi and former Liverpool striker Luis Suárez.

In the first leg, Barcelona established a commanding 3-0 lead, leaving Liverpool’s players looking frustrated on the pitch.

Facing such a deficit, it was challenging for Klopp to decide on his strategy for the second leg. As an attack-oriented manager, Klopp chose to take an all-in toward the offense.

Back at Anfield, Liverpool’s players walked silently from the team bus to the dressing room, burdened not only by the deficit but also by Firmino and Salah’s absences due to the unexpected injuries.

Fans arrived early, lining up on the stand and singing the anthem. Salah, wearing a "Never Give Up" shirt, greeted the fans before heading to the dressing room. Despite the adversity, Liverpool sent a clear message to all attendees: they want to win.

Mohamed Salah
Liverpool v Barcelona - UEFA Champions League Semi Final: Second Leg / Alex Livesey - Danehouse/GettyImages

Against Barcelona early in the second leg, goalkeeper Alisson Becker made several crucial saves while facing the opponent’s relentless attack. Fabinho and James Milner fought tirelessly to win the ball. With the huge determination to comeback, Liverpool scored an opening goal in the seventh minute.

Captain Jordan Henderson’s shot was parried by the goalkeeper, and Divock Origi slotted home in a follow-up, reducing the aggregate score to 1-3.

In the second half, Klopp brought on Gini Wijnaldum from the bench. The 28-year-old Dutch international made an immediate impact, scoring twice in two minutes.

In the 54th minute, Trent Alexander-Arnold delivered a pinpoint cross to Wijnaldum, who finished expertly. Two minutes later, Xherdan Shaqiri’s left-sided cross found Wijnaldum again, who headed the ball into the net, cutting down the aggregate score to a 3-3 tie.

At this point, it was Barcelona’s players and fans who were frightened.

As panic set in for Barcelona, Alexander-Arnold delivered the decisive blow. In the 79th minute, he executed a tactical corner that will be remembered in football history.

After placing the ball and pretending to leave, he suddenly darted back and delivered a quick corner kick while Barcelona's players were distracted. Origi, already anticipating the move, fired the ball into the net, completing Liverpool's miraculous comeback and sending Anfield into a frenzy.

After the match, Klopp led his players to the stands to sing You'll Never Walk Alone with the fans. Many had tears in their eyes as they sang together.

The last time Liverpool lifted the Champions League trophy was in 2005, when they created the "The Miracle of Istanbul," coming back from three goals down to win against AC Milan. This time, Liverpool carried the spirit of that miracle to the Champions League final, where they defeated Tottenham Hotspur 2-0, overcoming their “final curse”.

"This is the moment when everybody involved - and I really mean everyone involved - gets the maximum reward for all their investments," Klopp said, recalling the moment the team lifted the trophy.

The Long-awaited Title from Lockdown

By 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic halted the season for nearly three months. When the league resumed under strict health protocols, matches were played without fans supporting on the stand. Klopp, who often relied on fan interaction to boost his team’s morale, found this challenging. 

However, with only a third of the season remaining, he led his team through adversity. He maintained close communication with his players, ensuring they stayed motivated and focused during the league's suspension.

Klopp's empathetic leadership style kept the team united and psychologically prepared for the remainder of the season. He and his coaching staff used virtual training sessions to keep the players' fitness and tactical levels intact while monitoring their physical and mental health.

Thanks to his positive attitude and encouragement, the players managed to handle the uncertainties and pressures during the pandemic.

Liverpool quickly regained their form, winning crucial matches when the season resumed. Ultimately, Liverpool lifted the Premier League trophy at an empty Anfield Stadium, ending a 30-year wait for the title.

"Ending the 30-year wait meant obviously absolutely everything to our fans, and absolutely everything to us as well," Klopp said. Despite the pandemic's impact on the 2019-20 Premier League season, he believed this title would be etched into football history as it came under such harsh and unprecedented circumstances.


Earlier this year, Klopp announced through the club that he would step down at the end of the season, shaking the football world.

"I have to…I will leave the club at the end of the season," said Klopp, with gray stubble and a weary expression, pausing before revealing his decision to leave.

In a blink, nine years had passed, and only now did people notice that Klopp's once-flowing blonde hair had faded with time.

"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,” Klopp said. “I am…running out of energy.”

Today, Liverpool is far from their peak, yet despite an injury crisis earlier this season, the young and inexperienced team showed remarkable resilience, leading the league in the first half of the season.

Behind the scenes, it was from Klopp’s hard work in developing different players and rebuilding their chemistry. Though the team eventually couldn’t win the title as a farewell gift to their legendary manager, with eight trophies in his nine-year tenure, Klopp's status as a legend at Liverpool is undisputed.

Klopp's laughter will soon fade from Anfield, but his story will be told permanently, forever etched in the hearts of countless Kopites.

Danke, Jürgen. You’ll never walk alone.