There is arguably no one person in football more exemplary in his life outside of football than Jürgen Klopp. From his infectious positivity, deeply-philosophical and quotable soundbites, and the devotion he inspires in the players and the Liverpool fanbase, the Normal One from the Black Forrest is someone you want to learn more about no matter how much you already know.
We’ve already touched on the 52-year-old’s thoughts on ‘luck’ rooted in mental strength he spoke on in a recent wide-ranging interview with The Athletic’s James Pearce, something any observer of the Liverpool ‘mentality monsters’ in action will have found readily-apparent.
Another fascinating revelation Klopp made was that his famous team speeches—including the inspirational post-match rallying cry that set the foundation for a historic 4-0 comeback win over Barcelona in last year’s Champions League semifinal—are all completely improvised. Well, that’s not completely true. He admits that the first sentence is usually planned:
“I don’t usually remember what I say,” Klopp said. “If the boys didn’t say things in the press afterwards then I wouldn’t even know I’d said it.
“I remember Divock Origi after the Dortmund game [in the quarter-final of the Europa League in 2016 when Liverpool fought back from 3-1 down to win 4-3]. He said: ‘The boss told us at half-time that if we turned the game around it would be a story we’d all be able to tell our grandchildren about so it would be really worth giving it a try.’
“But if it was that easy I’d tell them things like that constantly! We always want stories to tell the grandkids! When we start a team meeting the only thing I really know what I am going to say is the first sentence.”
While consistently motivating a group of adult millionaires to defy insurmountable odds and follow your lead into battle without prepared speech notes is a feat one could expect of Jürgen Klopp if anybody, the Reds boss went on to explain that, often times, what he needs to say in those crunch moments will have revealed itself in his observations in training leading up to the match.
“All that happens through the week, it stays in my mind, I don’t write anything down,” he continued. “I just think about what’s worth telling the boys. Shit session, very good session, whatever, little things. I know how it sounds and it should not sound like this — like I know always to say the right words. But I do trust myself 100 per cent to find the right words.
“I only know the first sentence. I am not nervous because I don’t know yet the second sentence. I always realize after a meeting that I sweat here [he points to his brow]. That’s when I feel the intensity of the meeting. I don’t realize that it’s intense until the drops come down my face and I think ‘it’s not that warm’. I am obviously pretty much ‘in it’.”
Would that we all could distill whatever it is that, as Roberto Firmino once said of Klopp’s persuasive powers, “motivates in a different way every day” into a bottle to bring out when we needed to inspire our family, coworkers or even just our god-awful Sunday league team. However, the one person who could give a few pointers isn’t letting on:
“Sorry,” the Liverpool boss smiled. “I would write a book about the things I do if I knew why I did them.”