I took a nap on Friday evening as I had a headache and woke up to a bigger one when news broke that Jurgen Klopp would leave Liverpool at the end of the season.
It was a huge shock, and I lingered in bed for close to an hour, slowly digesting the news and reading messages from Liverpool and other football fans.
My mind drifted back to the wee hours of Friday, Nov 30, 2001. I had just returned from the Malay Mail office and rushed to turn on the laptop to see if the news I was dreading was about to come true.
Sadly, not too long later, came the confirmation – Robbie Fowler had left Liverpool for Leeds.
Liverpool has a history of great strikers, but ‘God’ was exceptional. I had even wanted to name my son after him, but my wife overruled me as she said it would be too difficult for Malaysians to pronounce.
It was devastating when Fowler left. Klopp’s leaving has hit harder. Heart-breaking is an understatement. The German woke up the sleeping giant that was Liverpool and ended its 30-year title drought.
He also won the Champions League, Club World Cup, the UEFA Super Cup, League Cup, and FA Cup. The Charity Shield is also in the trophy cabinet.
But Klopp was more than a manager – he rallied the people and the city. He was an inspiration, a motivator, and a leader. He turned “doubters into believers”, and despite working on a lesser budget than other rivals – he did spend big, but only after selling players – he challenged Manchester City’s dominance under Pep Guardiola.
While he ‘only’ has one league title – so far – it was more about returning Liverpool’s identity and pride, and showing it is still a top, top club.
Under him, Liverpool holds the longest winning run record in the English Premier League with Manchester City – 18 games. Klopp’s Reds also have a 17-game winning streak under him.
Klopp revealed to the club’s website on Friday that he is running out of energy to continue as Liverpool boss, but added: “I have no problem now, obviously. I knew I would have to announce it at one point, but I am absolutely fine now. I know that I cannot do the job again and again and again and again.”
When Klopp departs, he will leave a refreshed squad, dubbed Liverpool 2.0, with the majority of its core players in their early 20s.
Liverpool is top of the EPL, in the final of the League Cup, plays Norwich in the FA Cup tomorrow (10.30pm) and is in the knockout stage of the Europa League. The German deserves his break when he leaves in May.
Potentially, Liverpool fans have 30 more games to see the charismatic German work his magic and go out with a bang, with the Kop singing his song:
I’m so glad that Jurgen is a Red.
I’m so glad he delivered what he said.
Jurgen said to me, you know. We’ll win the Premier League, you know. He said so.
I’m in love with him, and I feel fine.
Thank you, Klopp, ‘You‘ll Never Walk Alone’.