Jurgen Klopp was struggling to contain his emotions. Just a few moments earlier, the Liverpool coach had put the icing on his spectacular 2019 with The Best FIFA Men’s Coach Award and the smile from his face showed his immense pride. For the German coach, emotions and analysis have always gone hand in hand, and in that expansive mood he spoke to FIFA.com in detail about his amazing year.
FIFA.com: How do you feel after being named The Best FIFA Men’s Coach of 2019?
Jurgen Klopp: I didn’t expect to feel so good, but I’m really happy to be here and really proud to have won this award. It’s a great day for me.
You said before you preferred team rather than individual recognition, in that sense, do you share this award with your players?
Of course, absolutely. In terms of football, I am who I am because of my players but, as a person, I am who I am because of my family, and I am very grateful to them as well. They are everything to me.
You had to beat two excellent coaches to be The Best, what do you think of them?
I respect them a lot. What [Mauricio] Pochettino did last year was so exceptional. Many times when you don’t win a title, people don’t remember you but he was extremely impressive. He has built his team step by step, keeping the team together. Pep Guardiola… what can I say? He has won so many titles, the way his teams play. He’s so exceptional; hands down, the best manager I’ve coached against. It was an honour to be nominated alongside them.
Three Premier League coaches, does this mark a trend for football in the coming years?
Well, I wouldn’t go that far. The Premier League has a big influence from different managers. It’s not reflected in the results every time because that’d be impossible but, in the long term, we have been influential. I don’t think it’s a trend because football always changes but there are so many good teams in the Premier League fighting for something. It’s not that we have made Spain or Germany smaller, it’s that the competition can be of six or seven teams and that makes it really special. And those teams obviously have great managers.
What was your favourite moment of 2019?
The victory against Barcelona. It was the outstanding moment for sure. A lot of experts, myself probably included, wouldn’t have bet money on us. Because being 3-0 down against a team with [Lionel] Messi, [Luis] Suarez and all those players looks like a death sentence. We didn’t believe we’d win, we just knew we had a chance, and we believed in that chance. It was massive. The support we had in the stadium. Looking back we could say we won the Champions League in that game. All of us will remember it forever.
What did you tell the players before that match?
A lot of things, but the key words were at the end. I said. “I normally wouldn’t think it’s possible, but because it’s you, we have a chance”. That was exactly what I thought and what I felt. And from the first minute we were literally all over Barcelona. And at that moment, I thought “we are ready at least”, and it’s very difficult to cope with a team like us and the atmosphere in the stadium in moments like this.
There’s an anecdote that says that, the day after you won the Bundesliga with Dortmund, you woke up in the parade bus all alone. Did something similar happen this time?
That anecdote is true! It was after the parade. But that morning when I woke up and I didn’t really know what had happened, I decided something like that would never happen again. I’m a control freak so I don’t like to be drunk. This time I was completely sober so I remember every second of the parade. I think I’d be able to recognise people in the city that I saw from that bus if I see them again. It was that intense, just incredible.