Jürgen Klopp: From Perpetual Runner Up to Champions League Winner

  1. Early Life

Jürgen Klopp was born on June 16, 1967, in Stuttgart, West Germany. His father, Norbert, was a traveling salesman and showed the potential of becoming a goalkeeper. However, he could not achieve his dream and so he transferred his love for football to Jürgen and trained him to become an athlete. Klopp would go on to say that his father was ruthless in his training as he wanted him to be the best he could be.

  1. Education and Football Career

As a youth player, he played for several teams such as SV Glatten and Rot-Weiss Frankfurt. Klopp would go on to play amateur football for Eintracht Frankfurt while pursuing a degree in sports science from the Goethe University of Frankfurt. It was during that time that he had his first stint as a coach since he managed Frankfurt D-Juniors. He became a professional footballer when he signed for Mainz 05 in 1990, where he played until his retirement in 2001. He was initially a striker but converted into a defender in 1995. Despite this, he remains the club’s third highest goal scorer with 56 goals to his name. During his playing career, he closely watched how his coaches managed players and made weekly trips to Frankfurt to study for his Football Coaching License.  

  1. Mainz 05: First Managerial Job

When he retired as a footballer in 2001, he was appointed Mainz 05’s new manager. As coach of the club, he started pioneering his gegenpressing, or counter-pressing tactics. He proved to be talented as a coach, as he guided Mainz 05 to promotion to the Bundesliga after his third season, a first in the club’s history. The club would get relegated again three years later and Klopp eventually resigned in 2008 after failing to secure promotion once again.

  1. Borussia Dortmund: Klopp’s Rise to Prominence

Klopp was appointed as Borussia Dortmund’s new coach in 2008 and was tasked to help improve the club’s abysmal form as it only managed to come in 13th place the previous season. Like in Mainz 05, Klopp employed his counter-pressing tactics but did not make an instant impact. Rather, the team’s league form improved over time and Klopp won the Bundesliga with Dortmund after his third season in charge. The following season was also a success as Dortmund won both the Bundesliga and the German Cup, although this would prove to be the last cup competition that Klopp would win for a long time. The next two seasons were not as successful Klopp and the team, and the German resigned after the 2014-15 season which saw Dortmund end up 7th in the Bundesliga.

  1. Klopp Brings Back Liverpool’s Lost Glory

Klopp was appointed the new Liverpool manager in October 2015 and as with Dortmund, Klopp gradually improved the club season by season. Klopp also trained the team to counter-press and bought in the right players suited for his tactics. His impact became noticeable during the 2017-18 season, as Liverpool blitzed to the Champions League final, which Real Madrid ended up winning. But, Liverpool kept up their winning pace and during the next season, they competed against Manchester City for the Premier League, but alas lost by one point. Liverpool would nevertheless have their crowning moment three weeks later after they beat Tottenham Hotspur 2-0 in that season's Champions League final. This tournament was a major milestone for both Liverpool and Klopp; it was Liverpool’s first major trophy since 2005 and Klopp’s first ever Champions League win. Moreover, Klopp managed to overcome his cup final curse, as he had previously lost six finals before winning the 2019 European Cup.



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