Danke, Jurgen

One Fan’s Farewell to One of the Greatest Coaches Liverpool Has Ever Had

This past Sunday, from Anfield to Zimbabwe, fans of Liverpool FC congregated as they all do for the final game of the Premier League season. But it will also be the final game for a man who joins the likes of Bill Shankly, Bob Paisley, and Steven Gerrard, as icons of the club. In 2015, the club signed him as our coach, after a rather disastrous beginning to the season under his predecessor, Brendan Rodgers. Automatically, Jurgen Klopp became a Kop hit. Even with Rodgers’ players, he still managed to get the club to the Europa League final, but the wheels were definitely in motion for greatness. As time went on, players came and went. But the club got better.

READ MORE: I’m Not Sweating The Coaching Carousel by Greg Schuman
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More Than Just Silverware

In 2019, Liverpool won its first trophy in almost a decade: the Champions League. This trophy began a period of success not seen since the club’s heyday in the 1970s and 1980s: Champions League, Premier League, FA Cup, Carabao Cup, Club World Cup, and Community Shield. He’s won everything imaginable, aside from the Europa League. Klopp has been the rock for the club through good times, bad times, and the pandemic that almost derailed the Reds’ first top-flight title in 30 years.

ASTV Shorts: Klopp’s Final Speech

For me, his tenure has meant more than wins, losses, or draws ever will. Up to his tenure, I had been a Liverpool fan for 5 years. But owing to life occurrences and TV deals that didn’t see me watch a lot of games, I wasn’t able to watch them play as much as I could (at one point, I remember watching Burnley play Portsmouth just to get a whiff of the EPL). But for the 2014-15 season, NBC took over (quick aside, the ads NBC ran to promote their coverage also introduced the world to Ted Lasso), which also meant more games on more networks. And being a top 6 team, that also meant Liverpool began to get more coverage.

Jurgen: The Community Creator

Coincidentally, I also found a group to watch games with down in San Diego to watch games with. I didn’t mind the drive, just as long as I got to watch the game with other people and make some new friends as I was looking to branch out socially after years of struggling to fit in with the Catholic young adult community in San Diego but not having any such successes with them. My first game with that group was also Klopp’s, a 0-0 draw against Tottenham Hotspur. Owing to the early kickoff, it was a small group. But I stayed after to chat.

A year later, I would help one of those people I chatted with help establish a Liverpool FC group in Carlsbad, turning a 45-minute drive into a 15-minute one, or ride my bike, opening even more doors. Through good times and bad times, from a Zoom chat during the Covid shutdowns and trips to Las Vegas, Vancouver, Cleveland, and Palm Beach, the connections that I have made have always been there for me, showing me that sometimes the closest friends we make aren’t always the closest in proximity. To a guy who has had a hard time fitting in and finding his people his whole life, those friendships have meant a lot, even when I’ve been a jackass at times. And those friendships have also helped to shape my worldview, shifting from staunch conservative to a more individualistic approach to politics.

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I would be remiss to say that when Klopp announced his departure that I did get a little misty-eyed. But everything must have an end. As the season has progressed after, I could also see the energy had been sapped from him and the players. It would’ve been nice to get all of the trophies, but life is unfair sometimes. And sometimes, you also have to contend with a club that has an infinite money cheat code (Man City, I’m looking at you).

As the final minutes tick down on Sunday, I’m also certain that so will the tears be ticking down the faces of Liverpool fans all over the world. To incoming manager Arne Slot: you have some big shoes to fill. But to Jurgen Klopp: for what you did for the city of Liverpool, the club, and the fans, especially someone like me who owes a lot of his social successes to you and the teams you’ve coached to glory, from the bottom of our hearts: danke. Und auf wiedersehen. You truly will never walk alone again.

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No Timucin this week so no one to watch the kids…. and you get to see the result
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