In celebration of Jurgen Klopp, the man who endured and led Liverpool to continental glory
"I lost all the finals I played in until now and I am thinking about my family because they suffered a lot more than I did."
The 'normal one' lost six finals before last night's Champions League triumph. Despite being favourites against Tottenham, the odds were stacked against Jurgen Klopp. Liverpool fought, endured, and overcame Spurs' challenge to win their sixth Champions League. But again, for someone like Klopp and the work he has done, it cannot be merely measured in trophies.
Klopp's times in Bundesliga was defined by gut, grit, hardwork, and finally, cohesion in his teams. Even when he was a player at Mainz, they used to constantly battle to save themselves from relegation almost every season. It is quite clear that the German's gritty mentality of rising above obstacles at any cost was built during his relatively unknown playing days.
When the German, with his baseball cap and tracksuit, took over Mainz as a coach, nobody expected him to lead the side into their first ever promotion to Bundesliga in club's history. Klopp did that, and with style, focusing on the collective work and determination of the players. But even before he achieved promotion in 2003-04 with Mainz, the side missed out on promotion in 2002-03 and 2001-02 by a few points.
The German mastermind already put the seeds of pressing and counter pressing at Mainz but he made the world truly sit up and notice during his tenure at Borussia Dortmund. With the gegenpressing at it's full flow, Klopp led Dortmund to a domestic double and Champions League final.
Klopp is no stranger to failures, which made him more gritty as he rose up the ladder in his managerial career. His constant struggles to reach the very top increased his endurance capacity and made his teams more resistant even when their backs were against the wall. Last night, Tottenham stretched and pushed the Reds till the final minute but failed to break through a superb Virgil van Dijk and Alisson Becker.
When the Reds suffered a 3-0 loss against Barcelona in the Semi-finals at Nou Camp, no one gave them a chance in the second leg. Klopp knew better because he has a habit of defying the odds. The first leg loss lowered expectations, which in turn, reduced the pressure.
The night Liverpool inflicted a crushing 4-0 defeat to Lionel Messi and co. won't be forgotten soon. It is icing on the cake in what has been a fantastic campaign for Klopp and his warriors.
Like life, football rewards those who stick to their guns when the going gets tough. Klopp promised that they would be back again when the Kopites lost to Real Madrid in the finals last year. His unwavering faith in himself and his team played a significant role as he fulfilled his promise.
When he arrived at Anfield, Klopp was taking over a team who were down in morale and not seemed like title contenders. Slowly but surely, German made the team tick, electrified the atmosphere at Anfield and turned them into serious contenders in England and in Europe. Each player is important in the team and the rise of someone like Jordan Henderson is a testament to that fact.
In football, there are plethora of stories of rising above the obstacles. Klopp's story is no different and the work behind the success after years of disappointment will be another inspiring tale to tell. This generation will keep getting motivated from these tales and we will certainly keep enjoying the 'heavy metal' football of Jurgen Klopp.