On Saturday, may 26, Kyiv, Ukraine one day becomes the football capital of Europe. We take the Champions League final, the most prestigious European club tournament. On the “Olympic” will meet “real” and “Liverpool”. And if the Madrid club from the very beginning was considered one of the favorites of the Champions League, even the most loyal fans of Liverpool had little faith that their team will play in the final match. But it happened. Liverpool got the chance to win the coveted Cup for the sixth time in its history. The team won the European Cup in 1977, 1978, 1981, 1984, and the winner of the Champions League in 2005. In 1985 and 2007, Liverpool reached the final but lost.
This time the team was very strong rivals. In 1/8 finals of the British beat “Port”. In the quarterfinals defeated “Manchester city”, which was considered a favorite. And in the semifinals beat Roma, who kicked earlier Barcelona.
Most fans and experts believe that Liverpool has been successful largely thanks to his coach Jurgen Klopp. No wonder that fans of the club held over the heads of posters with the inscription: “Believe Klopp!” 50-year-old German coach won their hearts. He leads Liverpool with Oct 2015. And the team regained its former glory.
On the eve of the final of the Champions League in Kiev “FACTS” offered an interview with Jurgen Klopp. Exclusive rights to publish this material in Ukraine courtesy of The Interview People.
— Say about you as a very confident football coach in Europe. I agree with this assessment?
— I confess, I have long known that you possess such a quality. I was still a kid when I said this. I was led into the circle drawing. There were many other children. The leader handed out paper and pencils and told to draw a tree. I did just that. All the trees turned into a small, neat, and only my tree size was the whole damn sheet of paper! It happened because I did not know how to draw. And the head of the circle looked at my creation and said, “that’s confidence!” Since then, confidence has become for me something of a hobby.
Is quality and made you coach?
— I don’t think. I became them because they were in a desperate situation. I’ve always liked football. My father was a fan. Football is his favorite game. And he passed that love to me. But a professional player I was quite late — at the age of 23. By the time already managed to marry for the first time, the birth of a child to go to University… And the contract I signed with the club “Mainz 05”, which participated in the second division in West Germany. Every season ended the same way — we struggled to even stay in the second Bundesliga. And only miraculously escaped once again one of the three last places, could breathe a sigh of relief. This meant that each of us following 12 months will receive a salary. Our mentors drove less. In the 11 years that I played in “Mainz”, we have had 14 coaches. Even then I realized that the football coach is not the most stable and reliable work in this life…
— Still, I chose this profession. Why?
— So I explain — a desperate situation. I turned 33 years old. Play more I could not. And I have a wife and child. And not a penny in the Bank. The money I received as a footballer, only enough for survival. I’m not complaining, believe me. We normally lived, but to postpone a little bit was not possible. When my player’s contract expired, immediately in full growth there was a question: and what to do now?
In other words, you have made a decision under pressure, right?
— Yes, but I don’t see anything wrong with the pressure. My whole life I have something or someone crushed. And that’s good. Life has taught to cope with such pressure. Now I want to create myself such a situation, so that my children felt the pressure. But artificially not to. Only life can do it. And then the person learns something. Look, in the mid-1990s, the German football there was some kind of joke, which, really, was only a joke share. If you as a player didn’t want to take any club, you said: “Hmm-m-m, maybe try to play for “Mainz”?”
And I played for the club. And me played together great guys, real characters. We were very average players, but both struggled! It was then that I understood the essence of football. It’s a team game. If you want to be part of a team, act like it. You cannot enjoy the benefits of the team, and act like a star alone! If you want the star of solitude, you better go play Darts.
— But football is full of stars!
The best players in the world — those who can sacrifice himself for the team. That’s the essence of football is to make each other stronger. That’s why I love this game. Because in life there is the same law. Help your partner to show his best qualities, and he will help you to do the same. And you’ll both be better and stronger. To be selfish is always easier than to help others. Take care not only about themselves but about someone else — it’s double the work. Only on the surface it may seem that there are players who can not make comments. Only people who do not understand football can think that. There is a world of such players…
Saying that, Klopp silent for a moment, shows how his language with the power rests inside of the cheek, and then jürgen continues:
— No, there is one. Is Lionel Messi. He is the exception. But even he needs time to train. All need constant training. And the players have to want to exercise if they like football.
You preach an attacking style. The same football offers to play all their teams and PEP Guardiola. You are often compared. And while he is considered the head coach in the English Premier League. What do you say?
— And you better have Pepa ask. Liverpool, in my opinion, proved everything. Returning to the issue of pressure, I squeezed out of it 100 percent for a career. Guardiola — no. Let me explain. I was an average player in one of the worst clubs in Europe. PEP was a Maestro among Midfielders. He played for Barcelona. He was very good! We both became coaches. Now coached two of the English club of the same level. So whose career is better — mine or Pepa?! (Laughs.) As you are such a joke?
* Thanks to jürgen Klopp to Liverpool failed to regain its former glory. Photo Getty Images
— Are you a religious man?
— I’m a Christian, and this too defines the rules by which we live. I like to be a Protestant, because our Church is before us leaves open more doors than the Church, following dogma. Faith in God gives me strength and freedom. I will say it sounds paradoxical? I don’t think so. Following the Swabian tradition, my grandmother was sure I prayed before going to sleep. And she always took me to Church. She fell asleep just a minute after the start of service. I don’t understand why we go to Church?
My upbringing involved mom. Father was a traveling salesman. He came home only on weekends. And while his mother, berating me for another offense, said, “What if God sees how you’re acting?” To which I answered, “I don’t think my behavior it somehow cares — he’s too busy.” Then mom said: “your father gets home, tell him everything”. And I was really afraid that dad am I going to get a thrashing. But it did not last long. I suddenly realized that father is busy almost as much as God. And when he came home, I only had to tell him: “Dad, and my grandmother went to Church.” No matter what a bad mood dad was, he was no longer able to punish me. And we only talked about sports, about football. That’s when I believed in God (laughs). I realized its practical use. But seriously, must be something, some force that leads us along. Just need to realize it, have faith in that power. I tried to push the God my mother and my grandmother, but I think their actions are only taken me around and around. And I found my way myself.
— You like to work and live in the UK?
When I ask my friends, honestly say: I am happy to live in this country. I’m not familiar with all British, but those who know fantastic people.
Say, you interested Bayern Munich. Don’t want to go back to Germany?
— I have a contract with Liverpool until 2022. And I always fulfill contracts. Besides my family in England very comfortable. But not everything in this life depends on us. Especially in football. I really hope that you never find yourself in a situation when the fans and players will say, “Thank God he’s leaving tomorrow!”
— Everyone at Liverpool is pleased with you?
— Be nice to everyone impossible. First of all you must decide what is right and what is not. I coach, supervise. Therefore, the right is what is good for the whole team. Sometimes my decisions don’t like certain players. But in the future they understand that it was better for the most part, better for the team.
— With or without contract, but not far off Brexit. You are a citizen of Germany and live and work in the UK, which in 2019 is going to secede from the Union. Suddenly London and Brussels agree? Suddenly the citizens of the EU countries will have to leave Britain?
— I confess with friends we often discuss this problem. While I joke. Telling everyone that I am in a privileged position. Even if the worst-case scenario that you just described, it will be funny if the British will start with the football coaches. But seriously, not my place to criticize the decision taken by the British. Although I have my own point of view on this matter.
If I have a problem in the club, I’m not quitting, but trying to solve it. If I have a problem in the family, I’m not leaving the family and trying to solve the problem. That’s what I do in everything and everywhere. I think the EU is far from perfect, and yet it is the best idea the Europeans decided to implement. And it’s proven history. Until then, while many countries living in the Union, all is well. If problems arise, they are easier to solve together. Not so long ago there was a financial crisis in Greece and several EU countries. The situation has normalised, because they acted together. Then began the crisis of migrants. This is a problem that concerns the whole of Europe. If that is so, then resolve it too need all together.
Honestly, when is such a fantastic country like Britain, a strong partner wants to secede from the Union and continue your journey alone, I do not see the benefits of such a decision. I admit I may not be the most informed on the issue of Brexit. But in football understand. When I played for “Mainz”, in the former Yugoslavia was a war. And in our team were Croats, Bosnians, Serbs. By the way, with me then played and the Bosnian Serb Zeljko Buvac, who is now my assistant at Liverpool. And we were on the same team. Much in the same football club players from different countries! Representatives of different cultures, religions, have different skin color. But they are a team. They live together, work together. Damn! They take a shower together! Football has always been and remains a good example. For that I love him.