Liverpool fans, at this point, are more than familiar with Jürgen Klopp’s charismatic attitude on the touchline and in interviews. The Dortmund attacker and former Klopp player Mario Gotze gave a bit more insight into what the man is like with his players during training for his piece in the Players’ Tribune.
Gotze, who got his start at Dortmund under Klopp when he was a teenager, credits the manager for making him the player he has become.
“He was my first manager, and he was the one who believed in me and gave me the chance to debut at 17 years old,” Gotze said.
“It’s funny to see him now with Liverpool because he’s such a natural guy in front of the media. He’s so authentic and he says whatever he wants. But I think most people just see the version of him standing on the touchline.”
That’s not all there is to Klopp’s particular style of management though.
“There’s a very serious side as well. When I was 17 or 18, and not giving 100% in training, he would be so intimidating. He used to come running over and get right up in my face and start shouting at me.
“I can’t really translate from German perfectly, but you know how he talks, with his teeth grinding: ‘You have to have more passion! You have to give everything! ****! Come on!!!’
“Then after training, he would be completely calm again, and he’d take you aside and say, ‘Mario, how are you? Let’s talk about life. What’s happening?’
“He knew how to handle me. He was an outstanding coach, but his personality was the most important thing for me as a young player.”
It’s clear that Klopp has a knack for nurturing young talent and finding a way to get the best out of them.
Equally important, however, may be his sense of humour. Gotze describes him as the most “naturally funny” manager he’d ever come across, and recounts the story of him running into his manager on the way to Klopp getting his famous hair transplants.
As Gotze tells it, as the two were parting, Klopp called after him, “The doctor’s number. I’ll save it for you. In a few years, you might need it.”