Jurgen Klopp, hot favourite to become Liverpool’s next manager following the sacking of Brendan Rodgers, could not find a more fitting club to take his successful coaching career to the next level.
Twice a Bundesliga champion with Borussia Dortmund, whom he also steered to the Champions League final in 2013, Klopp will find a similar situation at Liverpool to that he encountered at the Ruhr valley club when he joined in 2008.
Both teams had trophy-rich seasons years ago, with Klopp coming on board at Dortmund during a low point in their history when they were recovering from their 2005 near-bankruptcy and not daring to dream big, while Liverpool have not won the English league title in a quarter of a century.
The 48-year-old German, who helped turn the 1997 Champions League winners from relegation candidates under predecessor Thomas Doll into one of the most exciting brands in world football, needs a tale of woe to be successful and Liverpool offer him exactly that.
Klopp has made no secret of his desire to work in England and Liverpool’s past winning tradition, their die-hard fan base and the expectation to finally lift more trophies could be the ingredients Klopp needs. “You are asking me how motivated my players are? I can only talk about how motivated I am and if you could bottle that motivation and sell it you would probably go to jail,” he told reporters in 2012.
Exuberant, explosive and witty, Klopp is every fan’s ultimate coach, a man who can find the connection and the right balance between players, supporters and the board of directors. A big motivator in the changing room, ‘Kloppo’, as he is called back home, is a strong supporter of high speed football.
He brought then-teenager Mario Goetze into the first team in 2010, bought Shinji Kagawa for 300,000 euros ($337,920.00) from Japan’s second division and turned a string of players, including Mats Hummels, Erik Durm, Kevin Grosskreutz and Roman Weidenfeller, into World Cup-winning Germany internationals.
With his trademark high pressing, quick counter-attacks and never-say-die approach, Dortmund took the Bundesliga and Europe by storm, snatching domestic supremacy from Bayern Munich for a few seasons and winning over millions of fans across the world as the club spread its commercial operations beyond Europe.
In the process, Dortmund won the Bundesliga in 2011 and again a year later when they also clinched the German Cup and Super Cup, before reaching the Champions League final in 2013, losing to their Bavarian rivals in the first all-German final of the competition. They won the Super Cup again in 2014.
Having spent his entire playing career at second-tier Mainz 05, Klopp took over the team in 2001 and led them into the Bundesliga in 2004 and even a 2005/06 UEFA Cup spot via the Fair Play draw before they were relegated in 2007.
After failing to win a promotion, he left the following year in a tearful farewell attended by thousands of fans.
His emotional outbursts on the touchline that have seen him banned and fined are as much a part of his character as the witty punchlines that can turn a run-of-the-mill Champions League news conference into memorable entertainment.
“I was an idiot and for that I must apologise,” he said after being sent off for exploding at a fourth official in a Champions League game against Napoli in 2013. Klopp is seldom lost for words.
Long considered a likely successor to Pep Guardiola at Bayern, he announced his resignation late last season, saying Dortmund needed a change after a disappointing campaign that saw them bottom of the table at the halfway mark. “I am -- and that may come as a surprise to some -- not stupid and I know when I have been lucky,” he once said, when asked about coaching at Dortmund. “Borussia have been a present.”
Liverpool hope they will be his next gift.