This book reads like the Chicago Bulls documentary “The Last Dance”, with all the going back and forth in Jürgen Klopp’s different periods in life, from childhood to Mainz to Liverpool to Dortmund to Liverpool back to his punditry days in Germany, back to Dortmund, and so on. And it’s gripping.
The author has a special way to depicts a scene and brings us into the mood in the stadiums, in the pubs, and you can just taste the emotions among the supporters. And it is reflected in the book, which gives the overall context and “feel” around the development of Mainz, Dortmund, and Liverpool within Klopp’s respective periods in life, from the wreck at the beginning for each club to the few years of building up the team until its success stories for Dortmund and Liverpool.
But most importantly, in between the stories the book also brilliantly captures the essence of Jürgen Klopp’s tremendous, larger-than-life, personality and the wisdom and intellect that match it. Hence, it is similar with reading books about basketball’s John Wooden or American football’s Vince Lombardy, where we can learn so much more from the great men and from the lessons that they teach us for life outside their respective sports.
Yes, the core of this book is about Klopp’s strong values, it’s about his work ethic, his natural charisma, his clear conscious between what’s right and what’s wrong. One single passage in the book perfectly describes this philosophy: “But unlike Bill Shankly, Klopp has never believed that sport is everything. It can’t be. ‘If life would be judged at the end, and you stood at that door, and somebody asked you “Did you win something or not?” that would be really strange. But: “Did you try everything to improve the place you’ve been in, the house you lived in, the mood, the love?” “Yes, I tried, every day.” “Then come in.” And all the other guys, who won ignoring all the rules, all the laws – I think they have to use another door. I didn’t do that much in my life. But when we won it felt incredible (because) we always won it in the right way. You have to be patient. You have to work harder than others. You have to try, over a long period. Then you have a chance.’”
His philosophies, of course, also projected in his footballing approach. He’s very demanding but fair, he always push his boys to the limit but never throw them discouraging critics. He’s the ultimate authority but he’s “one of them”. He parties with them, exchange jokes with them, the hugs, oh the many hugs, and he genuinely value everyone at the club from top to bottom. In fact at the start of his tenure in Liverpool, he gathered everyone in one room, from players to the toilet cleaner and the lunch lady and ask them introduce to one another, to create a togetherness atmosphere in the club.
And he’s also good at protecting his players: “The Liverpool boss also reminded his men again about the pact he had made with them shortly after coming into the job in October 2015. ‘When you win, it’s down to you and when you lose, it’s down to me,’ he had told them in a bid to ease unspoken concerns about the new, complex and very demanding playing style.”
Now, I know love is a strong word but even if he kills a puppy at this very instance, I bet every Mainz, Dortmund, and Liverpool supporter will still see him as a saint. That’s how much Klopp is loved by the entire city of Mainz, the entire city of Dortmund, and by Liverpool fans worldwide, and it is a testament to his great character.
As a biased Liverpool fan, whose club just won the first English title in 30 years thanks to this err, saint, with many records broken in the process, this book is like the icing on the cake. It is the perfect book for the supporters. Thank Fowler that he’s our manager.