From time to time, I return to the subject of football, or at least with lessons from football. This week, I am going to share five things I have learned from observing Jurgen Klopp, the manager of Liverpool football club since 2015.
Lesson #1: Be your normal (authentic) self at all times
Jurgen famously labelled himself as The Normal One during his very first press conference when Liverpool unveiled him as their new manager. Other managers (who shall remain nameless here, at least) had gladly called themselves The Special One and the press teased Jurgen with anything he would care to be known as.
His response captured the attention, amusement and perhaps, most of all, the respect of the media that day. Jurgen Klopp does not live in a normal world, as anyone who works in or watches the world of football knows very well. He clearly understands, however, the importance of being as normal as possible within that abnormal existence.
It has to be authentic of course, and judging by the stories surrounding Klopp, the attention he receives for good and not so good things he has either said or done, he is most definitely normal!
Lesson #2: Be passionate about everything you do
During his first season as manager of Liverpool, the team could be brilliant one game and dismal the next. Consistency was not a word you would use to discuss their form. Excitement and drama, however, would be high on the list of words you would use to describe the way the team played back then. In the clip below, you can see for yourself how much it meant to him when the team managed to snatch a late winning goal. He even lost his glasses in the exuberant team hug that followed.
Lesson #3: Be the inspiration you want to see in others
Undoubtedly, the most famous comeback in world, let alone European football of recent times, took place in May, 2019, when Liverpool overcame a 3-0 deficit to beat the mighty Barcelona 4-0 at Anfield. They were without their best player, Mohamed Salah and despite the overwhelming odds, they triumphed on an extraordinary night of guts, passion and belief.
That belief was personified by Klopp, who told his players before they went out to begin the match,
“The world outside is saying it’s not possible. And let’s be honest, it’s probably impossible. But because it’s you? Because it’s you, we have a chance.”
Lesson #4: Have faith in someone other than yourself
Jurgen has never shied away from the fact that he has a strong, Christian faith. There are videos on the Internet where he talks openly about his faith but my favourite example took place during a press conference in 2019. He was asked if he felt he would be judged purely on the basis of how many trophies he would win, while in charge of Liverpool. Bearing in mind, he had been with the club for more than three and a half years and they had not won anything, yet.
Jurgen’s reply was, well, pure Jurgen, “You can’t imagine how less I’m interested in that.
“I never thought about myself in that way. My job is to do everything I can to help the team be as successful as possible. I’m not searching to be remembered in 50 years or whatever. For me it’s no pressure, only opportunity. I love what I do, I think I have a fantastic team out there, and that’s all that I need to be a happy person.
“I respect a lot the desire of all the people and the players, and I can be really part of that, I can be part of that dream. But it’s not for me at the end, it’s for the people. I am not interested in who judges me. God judges me one day and that is the only thing I am interested in. What other people say about me I couldn’t be less interested.”
Lesson #5: Combining all of the first four lessons, you can’t help but connect with everyone, everywhere you go
I witnessed with my own eyes how Jurgen uses all of the above and channels it into one enormous outburst of authenticity whenever he feels the urge. I took my two boys to watch Liverpool at Anfield (a client had kindly arranged for us to buy tickets to sit at the Kop end of the ground, where the world famous supporters sing their hearts out and support their team with immense passion.)
Liverpool narrowly defeated Leicester City with a last minute penalty from James Milner. I am not sure if Jurgen had ever done what he was about to do in front of us but it was a magical moment. To see what I mean, you will need to watch the brief video below.
Until next time, be blessed to be a blessing!