Jurgen Klopp is set to leave Liverpool at the end of the season (Picture: Getty / Shuttershock)
I hope he knows. I really hope he knows.
As Jurgen Klopp announces his decision to step down as Liverpool manager at the end of the season, having delivered every major prize that club football has to offer, I hope he knows just how much he has changed the lives of those who have followed his team everywhere.
I hope he knows about the profound bonds that previously disparate human beings have built with one another over that time. People who were perfect strangers nine years ago but who, platonically, spiritually, perhaps even romantically, love each other now.
Those who have fallen into each other’s arms in the aisles of the Kop at full-time, mouths agape and eyes wild with rhapsody.
Those who have danced together in the nightclubs of Europe and beyond, marinating in the humid fever after watching another giant toppled.
And those who have gone on to support each other through the last decade or so of ‘real life’s’ wills and ills, all because of a relationship built around a Jurgen Klopp football team which has given them everything and more.
I hope he knows that there is nothing else in this world which allows a person to so regularly share such pure joy, thrill, and privilege with the people in their lives than following a football team together. And his Liverpool have offered those three things in copious amounts, week after week, season after season.
Jurgen Klopp masterminded Liverpool’s 2019 Champions League triumph in Madrid (Picture: Daniel Austin)
Rome. Porto. Munich. Barcelona. Lisbon. Dortmund. Milan. Istanbul. Doha. Madrid. The great cities of the world – all of them places Liverpool have been and achieved something wonderful.
But more importantly, places where the people who followed them felt what it means to truly live. To travel all over and share a breadth of exhilarating experiences not many are lucky enough to encounter. People who have been completely and utterly spoiled by Jurgen Klopp.
The song with which Liverpool supports laud Klopp, to the tune of The Beatles’ I Feel Fine, goes: “I’m so glad, that Jurgen is a Red. I’m so glad, he delivered what he said.” It references the manager’s promise upon his arrival at the club that he would win a major title in his first four years.
Jurgen Klopp took Liverpool’s training session on Friday just hours after announcing his impending departure (Picture: Getty)
After four years Liverpool won the Champions League. One more year later they were English league winners for the first time in 30 years. Fair play, then – you can’t argue with that delivery.
And he’s still going. Two days before his announcement, Klopp led Liverpool into an eleventh final with a two-legged win over Fulham in the EFL Cup semi. Yet another away end full of people making memories together, and millions around the world with a reason to dream again.
I hope he knows, though, that the trophies and honours are just numbers once they’re won. Digits on the training ground wall. Words in a list on the club’s Wikipedia page.
What he really ‘delivered’ on is the time the people were able to spend together – dancing, drinking, celebrating, screaming, living.
Liverpool reached the final of the Champions League in 2022 after another famous European night in Villarreal (Picture: Daniel Austin)
I hope he knows as well that he is doing the right thing. In the 2023/23 campaign, when Liverpool were woeful, weary and wounded for months on end, Klopp looked tired. Really tired. Drawn and despondent. Like he didn’t know what had gone wrong or how to fix it and it was all taking a toll.
He could have gone then. But he mustered the resilience, the tenacity, and the fight which made him such a perfect match for the club, city, and people of Liverpool to go again. One more.
Last summer he hit reset, rebuilt his team and has now set Liverpool up for what seems like a new go at trying to win the lot. Whoever takes over, and frankly right now it doesn’t matter one bit, has already had a significant part of their job done for them.
In the announcement video revealing his decision, Klopp references mental fatigue, saying: ‘I know I cannot do the job again and again and again.’ He gave the last push he had in him and is going to prioritise his own life. Crucially, he has had the self-awareness to do so in advance. And though understandably subdued, he looks well again.
I hope he knows the social impact he has had on the city. That he has become an institution in his own right, beyond sport, who is listened to on matters of ethics and morality here more than one in his position should ever expect. I hope he knows that scouse nans who don’t like football know full well who Jurgen Klopp is. And they love him for who he is.
There are four more months to go of Jurgen Klopp at Liverpool. And they could be better than anything that has come before. But no matter what happens, and what is won or lost, he changed people’s lives and made them happier for it.
I hope he knows. I really hope he knows.