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1000. Spiel als Trainer – Jürgen Klopp: Synonym für Erfolg


In Liverpool, coach Jürgen Klopp is worshiped like a saint. He made the club fit for the title again after many unsuccessful years. He won the Champions League 2019, the Premier League 2020 and the FA Cup 2022 with the Reds. (dpa / picture alliance / Martin Rickett)

It is a popular metaphor when it is said that a person has risen to fame and glory overnight. In the case of Jürgen Klopp, this sentence is true. In February 2001, the FSV Mainz 05 team was in danger of relegation in the 2nd Bundesliga – those responsible around manager Christian Heidel saw the need to act.

The Mainz player at the time, Sandro Schwarz, remembers: “We went to the training camp. There was still Eckhard Krautzun coach. The plan was also that we drive there and from there drive directly to the game. We went there with Eckhard Krautzun, but then to the game with Jürgen Klopp as head coach. That’s why it was a strange situation in the short training camp that it turned out like this.” Schwarz, who is now responsible for Hertha BSC as head coach, was first a teammate of winger Klopp at Mainz and then a player under him for a few years.

“The boys listened to him with great interest”

Shortly before that, Jürgen Klopp himself was on the pitch in the 3-1 defeat against Spielvereinigung Fürth, but just as the Swabian became a coach overnight, he also ended his playing career overnight.

Over the years, Klopp has become a formative figure in German and international coaching. Erich Rutemöller, his coach trainer at the DFB, agrees: “I still remember one statement today: he wants to be the coach he would have liked to have been as a player. I thought that was good back then. Of course he talked a lot about tactics, he shared his game idea with us. The boys, I don’t want to say, glued to his every word, but they listened with great interest. Because he represented something, he already had a name, he was successful. He had made the leap from professional footballer to coach.”

Pressing traps, intensity, game control through counter-pressing

And not only that. Over time, the Klopp name has become almost synonymous with success. He establishes Mainz among the top 25 in German football, gets the double with Borussia Dortmund and leads BVB to the Champions League final. Three more appearances in finals follow with Liverpool – in 2019 they win the premier class and in 2020 they win the English championship for the first time in 20 years.

The name Klopp also stands for a special kind of football: pressing traps, intensity, game control through counter-pressing. In a way, he carries on the game idea from his ex-coach in Mainz – Christof Babatz, Klopp’s team-mate in Mainz at the time, observed this: “Wolfgang Frank taught all former Mainz players the back four to their sleep and the current coaches, that is Kloppo and whatever their names are, they still draw on Wolfgang Frank.”

Wolfgang Frank opened Klopp’s eyes

The journalist Mara Pfeiffer, who has written an extensive book on Frank, can confirm this: “As far as the influence on Jürgen Klopp is concerned, the best story is that Klopp, when he was in the final of the Champions League for the first time, his old mentor wrote a message: ‘I wouldn’t be here without you.’ I don’t think there is a better way to get to the point. Klopp once said about himself: Up to the point when Wolfgang Frank came to Mainz, he was a completely normal kicker. He was a sports student, he had an interest in the game, but the way Wolfgang Frank taught him the game and the way he talked to him about the game completely opened his eyes. He once described it with the words: ‘The square suddenly had completely different dimensions.'”

Just as Frank is a role model for Klopp, Klopp is now becoming a role model for many of his younger colleagues. His tactical approach can be copied to a point. But his former team-mate Christof Babatz emphasizes a personal quality of Jürgen Klopp that particularly distinguishes him: “In my opinion, that was and is his way, how he a) deals with people and b) with a team, how he treats a team leads because he is incredibly good at motivating. He’s incredibly good at explaining things. That always works.”

The achievement of Jürgen Klopp is not the many titles, but that he remains true to himself even after 1000 games and numerous successes and has not changed his style since the first game.

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