Jürgen Klopp interview in full: This deal is for the now and the future
Jürgen Klopp has revealed how a desire to help shape the future of Liverpool Football Club formed part of his reasoning for signing a contract extension.
The manager put pen to paper on a new deal with the Reds on Thursday, ensuring he would remain at the helm beyond the expiry of his previous terms in 2024.
He was joined by assistants Pepijn Lijnders and Peter Krawietz in recommitting to the club – and Klopp explained how they are not only focused on the current challenges facing the team, but also its evolution in the coming seasons.
The boss sat down with Liverpoolfc.com in his office at the AXA Training Centre for an extended interview after signing his extension.
The in-depth chat is free to watch for registered users, or scroll down to read a full transcript.
Jürgen, it’s a big day for you, it’s a big day for Liverpool Football Club. How do you feel?
Great! That’s easy to say. I couldn’t have imagined that I would be that excited about something like that, but I am actually. Obviously we had a big game last night; [it is] difficult to go to bed after games like this. I woke up this morning at 5.30am and was on fire, to be honest. I feel myself, I couldn’t appreciate more what has happened in the last six-and-a-half, nearly seven, years. I never thought I would find again a place where we feel that welcome and where I am maybe useful as well and these kind of things. It is great. It was just a very easy decision, let me say. A few things had to be sorted, but not with the club actually. It’s great.
Just on that, what is it about this club you love? I think a lot of people thought you were going to leave here in 2024…
That is, of course, nothing to do with my love for the club. If, when I said around the last contract extension, that in 2024 that’s it then, it was actually a private agreement and the most important contract in my life I signed is the one with [my wife] Ulla. That’s where it started again. We sat in the kitchen at the table and Ulla said, ‘I can’t see us leaving in 2024.’ And I was like, ‘What?!’ ‘No, really, [with] all the people about.’ You won’t know Lisa, but she is very important for us, it’s about Danielle, it’s about so many people. That’s the first moment and then, of course, it’s about the club and all the people I don’t know personally but I know as well, so that’s how it all started. When that started then I thought, let’s have a think and when I thought about it then it was clear I need to have one more really important conversation and that was the one to Pep Lijnders. He is probably the main reason for it because he is a real energiser – you know him, this man is on fire and our connection is beyond football things. When he said, ‘Oh, yes, I am in!’ then it was clear that we are open for any kind of talks. That’s why we sit here now.
The journey continues… ❤️ https://t.co/NtEiadrYYS
— LFC (Liverpool FC)
28th Apr 16:42
It’s not just Pep who has recommitted, it’s Pete Krawietz, too. How important was that?
Ah, there is no doubt about that! Pete and I are like an old couple! I know Pete would have stayed, but with him it is the same – with family and all these kind of things, the kids are in school, so these kind of things we had to sort, of course. With Vitor [Matos] we have the next one with us who is an incredible coach. We play three times a week pretty much every week, but we are still more often [than not] at the training ground and the group we built here, the coaching staff, is absolutely incredible. It’s like this mix of being outstanding people and incredibly good in the things they do on a professional basis. That makes it so enjoyable to come here. Again, that’s the reason why the energy thing is no issue anymore because we give each other a boost every day and working for this club is pretty special. We all know there are more important things than football out there, but when you have the chance to work in football then I can’t see a better place to be – that’s the truth. In the moment, it is for sure the place to be for other people as well – so for players and these kind of things. It is exciting, this is only the start how we described it internally. It’s not that we now try to get through the next years! We feel like this is only the start and it’s cool.
I guess it’s not just the coaching staff, it’s everyone in this building all making their own contributions towards the team…
Yes, it is. Look, we had one-and-a-half years here [at the AXA Training Centre]. We were a bit worried when we left Melwood because sometimes maybe when you move, you lose a bit of soul. You live in an old house and you know everything about it, then you move into a new house, it is exciting but it’s a bit cold and you’re not sure. Here, not at all, because we brought all the people with us. The atmosphere altogether created here again is second to none. It’s coming in here every morning and all the different departments, it’s really cool to be part of this family. That’s what I want to be as well, so it’s a selfish decision as well. It’s like, ‘OK, I want to be part of it!’ I want to come here every morning, see these people and try to help the club to be as successful as possible now, but in the future as well.
That’s what we said, we work with the team of today but we have to create the team of tomorrow as well. With the team we have now, it is obviously a really good one and a really exciting one, but in the next four years there is obviously a lot to do, there might be some changes and all these kind of things. It is no threat, there must be some changes, obviously, and I want to be part of this as well. It’s not only that I love being here, but I feel massively responsible for everything here as well, so it’s just part of the deal. So, win the game tomorrow or, in our case, in 50 hours and then, of course, there [are] other games coming up and we have to be prepared for them as well.
You’ve kind of mentioned it in your earlier answers, it’s not just what’s happening on the pitch here…
This club is much more than on the pitch, we know that. That’s difficult to understand when you are not here. Look, I came from Dortmund and I was at Mainz, that’s more than football as well, definitely. I was really, really, really, really blessed with the clubs I had, and I am again – that’s so cool. I think I said it in the first press conference, what I love [is] how the people live football in Liverpool, and I had no idea how true that is. Because I thought already, ‘Yes, it’s football, it’s a massive thing here.’ But in Liverpool it’s obviously massive. But the thing is, wherever we go in the world, our people are already there. It’s just cool when the only thing in life where you are really good, when you are allowed to work in that area and then you do it for a club like Liverpool, this is football at its best – not always on the pitch but around definitely. I think as a club and as a community or as a big, big, big family, we improved a lot in the last years. I don’t know exactly how it was before I arrived here – it was a fantastic club obviously – but since I’m here it feels like every day we come together a little bit closer, we understand each other a little bit better, we appreciate each other a little bit more.
This club went through difficult times but we did that as well now already in this short spell, with [COVID-19] and things like this. It’s just nice and a big part of my life obviously. When this contract expires then, whenever it is, it will definitely be the longest time of my life in a football club as a coach at least. That’s big. When I now hear it, it makes me proud as well – and I don’t feel that often. But it’s a cool thing. How I said, what is very important and is probably the most important – because I could not work against that and wouldn’t want to work against it – is that my family, in this case especially Ulla, she just loves it here. If she would say, ‘Honestly, I love the football and I love watching it but I actually want to go home’, then we would go, that’s the truth. She started it and here we are.
It’s coming up to seven years in October that you’ll have been here. With the schedule and everything going on, there’s very little time to think of anything else other than the games and the team’s preparations. But how would you reflect on those seven years so far? Can you believe the journey we’ve been on?
You’re right, that’s a bit of a shame… but it’s not important really, because there’s time then when it’s really over, when you look back and all these kind of things. Last night was a nice one, we saw Alberto Moreno. So, for example, he’s injured, the poor boy, but it was so nice to see him. It’s like if we would play, whenever, against PSG… so this always reminds you of things that happened in the past and these kind of things. So, yes, I wouldn’t have expected that it would be that good. But if it wouldn’t have been that good, we would not sit here – I think we agree on that as well. As nice a guy I am maybe, but if you don’t win football games then we can still be friends, but we don’t work together anymore – so we understand that. That’s obviously the basis for everything.
What we did, we created an atmosphere between us and our supporters that I think they understand the steps we have to make. Everybody wants to be as successful as possible, no doubt about that, but we had to learn to do these steps together. It means we always have to adapt our expectations to what is possible. If it’s big possible, so go for the big. But if it’s not happening, come on, let’s try it again. So we had these: we can become champion not for one point, OK, come on, let’s try again – so these kind of things. You can always drift apart in moments like this where, ‘Yeah but now we waited long enough’ or whatever, 29 years is enough obviously! But a year later we could deliver because we stuck together, and that’s a nice lesson for life. We can all use that for other situations in our life as well, and that’s maybe the main reason for high-profile football, that we do all we do under pressure and the maximum spotlight, everybody watches everything what we do, what we say, stuff like this, and we can still have a good life.
I mean, we don’t worry what we say all the time, these kind of things. That’s the things you can learn – maybe the rest is probably useless – but a few things are really helpful for all of us and we can use in life.
It’s important to say that everyone in this building should believe they have played a role on this journey…
They have, they have. You never know, we should go out and ask everybody, but I really hope that everybody knows that that’s the way we live here every day. That’s the way we live here every day. We are still waiting for the medals from the Carabao Cup. You can obviously order – I never will understand that, if I would be in charge of these competitions I would already give everybody 60 medals – but we need more medals that we can give it to all the players from the Academy and all these kind of things. So, it’s so nice that the idea we had when we came here was to bring the Academy and the first team close together. We have a sensational relationship with Barry [Lewtas] from the U23s, all these kind of things. I now think back on my first day here and you don’t know one name, and that’s really hard. That you think everybody knows you and you have no idea who you’re talking to. Yes, you know it and the next day you should know but you still don’t know. It’s much more comfortable now when I know all the people and all the names, even the names of the families, the wives, the husbands and the kids. That helps obviously.
I know you spoke about it in an interview last week, the fans have a new song for you and you said your boys quite like it. What are your thoughts on it?
So, I love the song but I still struggle that it’s for me. If there’s another word [they could use]… I am every day in front of a camera so I’m obviously not shy and don’t struggle with confidence and stuff like this. But in this moment, it just goes against my understanding of a football team. I am not the main man, the players play, and if you sing all the time my name, I don’t play. But I love the song, I’m very, very, very thankful for the idea. It’s all fine. Now I hope in the future there will come up other songs, new songs and then we mix it up a little bit more. Usually I don’t hear the songs really, I realised a little bit. But with this one it’s now different, I hear it all the time, it’s really in my ear. Then I think, ‘Again?’ That’s a little bit the problem. But I love it, it’s great and the song is great. Whoever wrote it, thank you very much.
You said earlier it’s basically starting again now, day one again, but there’s still so much to achieve this season, so much to play for…
Of course, we know this season is not over so we don’t start the season anew. We tried to squeeze everything out of this season that we can. Could you plan a situation like we are in now before the season and say, ‘Yeah, end of April, yeah, probably, five or six games to go in the Premier League, you won already [the Carabao Cup], final of the FA Cup, semi-final of the Champions League’? You cannot plan it, so there’s no book how to deal with it and nobody can tell you, ‘Now you put the focus on here.’ What brought us here, the only thing I know about it is: just focus on the next game. That’s difficult enough with all the numbers of games.
Last night I realised in the press conference, while everybody is asking me about the Villarreal game, my thoughts are already at Newcastle. So, you have to push yourself back into the subject and Tuesday next week we play Villarreal, but you are just not there because that’s what you really have to do – maybe not in the press conference but directly after. And that’s how this day usually looks; in between all the media stuff we do now today – and for a great reason, I love it – there is a very important Newcastle analysis meeting which is actually the main point for this day because we play there in 49 hours meanwhile and we go there and will try absolutely everything.
You like to watch Liverpool videos online. Have you seen some of the scenes from Wembley or Anfield, for example? How does that make you feel, seeing the joy on the faces?
Yeah, Wembley I saw. Anfield, probably, I don’t know exactly. Wembley I saw because obviously my family were there as well. They enjoyed it a lot. It’s great. I can’t wait for the FA Cup final, to be honest. I’m happy it’s not tomorrow but apart from that, I’m really looking forward to it. I said it before, I was not a big advocate of the semi-final in Wembley, it’s for us quite a trip. I would have preferred even to go to Man City and play there – OK, when you can fill the stadium 50-50 of course – or of course the best scenario would have been playing here. But when you are there, it’s a good event: ‘We will go there again, we will play the semi-final at Wembley again.’ So it’s fine. It was really cool. It felt like a final, was a final without a medal. But we know as well, Chelsea are waiting and it will be a tough one as well.
We can praise the atmosphere, we can, rightly so. But imagine we would not be in a good mood now. What do we want? We go for everything, the boys look like they are never going to stop, literally. Last night’s game, my God, it’s unbelievable, the energy we show and all these kinds of things. Before the game in the meeting I said, ‘After the game I would love everybody to say, ah, their identity is obviously intensity.’ Because that’s obviously what we are. After the game I thought, ‘Yeah, that probably could be a good headline for this game’ because it was absolutely insane what we did. But it’s not done yet, that’s OK. But all these kind of things, if it would be easy then you could not buy in so good, I’m pretty sure. It’s like the nervy parts are part of the deal as well. The first half against Everton, they are part of the deal as well, we cannot expect that we just go through it easily. But I think there’s no doubt about it, we will fight for everything and we will see what we get for it.
The fans’ sentiment is that this is the time of our lives. So, just finally, what would you say to supporters reading this interview?
Hopefully not! Maybe the time of our lives comes, maybe it gets even better. But, yes, it’s a very good time. I said it a couple of times, it’s absolutely good to be a Red in the moment. I think we all know that, we all appreciate it and we all love it.