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Klopp Exiting Anfield Stage, But Legacy Will Live On

  • SPORT
  • 4 min read

When Juergen Klopp addressed the media for the first time as Liverpool manager in October 2015 he spoke of turning doubters into believers. Nearly a decade and multiple trophies later, he will leave with mission accomplished, and much more.

The 56-year-old German would thoroughly endorse the saying that no individual can ever be bigger than a football club.

But as he prepares for the 491st and final game of his reign on what will be an emotional Sunday afternoon at Anfield, it is impossible to overstate Klopp’s impact on the club and the city.

“What he has done is incredible, not just for the club but for this city,” John Pearman, founder and editor of the Red All Over The Land fanzine, says of the German.

“We’ll never see his like again.”

Klopp did not only return the club back to the pinnacle of English and European football, he embodied the Scouse spirit of a city that always regards itself as a bit different.

On the pitch his high-octane heavy metal football delivered seven trophies including a first English League title for 30 years, a Champions League crown and a Club World Cup.

Off it, Klopp grasped the psyche of the city’s residents and showed empathy and compassion, always managing to retain an admirable sense of perspective.

As a mark of the bond between Klopp and Liverpool he was given Freedom of the City status in 2022 — a ceremony attended by Margaret Aspinall, chair of the Hillsborough Family Support Group which campaigned for justice for the victims of the 1989 tragedy that resulted in the deaths of 97 fans.00:13Napkin used to sign a young Messi sells for nearly $1 million

“The families have had a lot of sadness but the joy he has brought us, the excitement he gives you, you forget all your sadness, that’s what’s he does,” Aspinall said.

Liverpool have had some great managers but Pearman says Klopp will be held in the same esteem as Bill Shankly who famously said: “Some people believe football is a matter of life and death, I am very disappointed with that attitude. I can assure you it is much, much more important than that.”

Klopp would not echo those words, although the passion he brought to his job bordered on the fanatical with his trademark touchline sprints to celebrate goals.

He treated his players like close family while he would invariably be the last to leave the pitch in victory, or defeat, as he saluted his adoring fans.

Klopp will be a tough act to follow, but leaves Liverpool in good health with a crop of talented youngsters already making their mark alongside serial trophy-winners like Trent Alexander-Arnold, Virgil van Dijk, Alisson and Mohamed Salah.

It is a far cry from when he arrived to replace Brendan Rodgers with Liverpool in 10th place in the Premier League and the fans disillusioned.

There was no quick fix as Liverpool finished eighth that season although appearances in the League Cup and Europa League finals hinted at a new era.

In his first full season in charge Klopp steered Liverpool back into the Champions League and they went all the way to the 2018 final — losing out to Real Madrid.

Everything began to click the following season in what proved to be an epic title race with Manchester City — Liverpool edged out despite collecting 97 points.

Redemption was just around the corner though as Liverpool beat Tottenham Hotspur in the 2019 Champions League final, having staged a spine-tingling comeback to beat Barcelona 4-3 on aggregate in the semi-final.

Liverpool’s 30-year wait for an English title followed the next season although sadly the pandemic meant The Kop was empty as Klopp’s side sealed it with seven games to spare.

Klopp’s final chapter threatened to be a glorious one as his side chased an unlikely quadruple this season but they had to settle for a gutsy League Cup triumph over Chelsea.

But as he prepared to walk away, there were are no regrets.

“Could someone else have done better? Probably,” Klopp said at his final pre-match press conference on Friday. “But I couldn’t. The rest will be judged by the people, and I’m sure most think we were absolutely fine.”

Reuters