Skip to content

Jurgen Klopp: Full story of how Liverpool went from doubters to believers

Jurgen Klopp takes charge of his final Liverpool game against Wolves on Super Sunday; German has been at the helm since 2015, winning seven major trophies, including a first-ever Premier League; watch Liverpool vs Wolves live on Sky Sports from 3pm on Sunday; kick-off 4pm

Jurgen Klopp: Essential Reading

"If I sit here in four years, I am pretty confident we will have one title," said Jurgen Klopp in his introductory press conference as Liverpool manager in October 2015.

A punchy statement about a club who had not been crowned top-flight champions for 25 years, but the German was true to his word, albeit it took him one year longer than he had predicted to end the Reds' seemingly never-ending wait for the title.

Not just a first-ever Premier League trophy either, but Klopp has won it all during his eight and a half years in charge at Anfield, including a sixth European Cup, by playing a brand of high-octane football that combined with his own unrivalled man-management, motivational and organisational skills, was near impossible to stop at times.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Jurgen Klopp sits down to reflect on his Liverpool career and watches a host of Liverpool legends pay tribute to the outgoing Liverpool boss.

None of what he and the team achieved together would have been possible, though, without a third, equally important component as Klopp immediately understood the importance of harnessing the power of the Anfield crowd, like he had also done at Borussia Dortmund with the 'Yellow Wall'.

"You have to change from doubter to believer," was Klopp's most important message to Liverpool's supporters during his unveiling, a weary fanbase that had watched arch-rivals Manchester United hoover up title after title in the previous 20 years to move above them as English football's most successful side.

This transformation did not happen overnight, however, with Klopp initially having to implore Liverpool fans not to leave the ground early if the team was trailing.

Jurgen Klopp mural near Anfield
Image: Jurgen Klopp mural near Anfield

"After the goal on 82 minutes, with 12 minutes to go, I saw many people leaving the stadium. I felt pretty alone at this moment," he said in an exasperation after his first-ever loss, a 2-1 reverse at home to Crystal Palace in November 2015.

Also See:

"Of course, we decide when it's over. Between 82 and 94 you can make eight goals if you want, you only have to work for it."

Gradually, though, Anfield became a fortress again as the home faithful fed off the energy of the team, and vice versa, while despite being mocked for celebrating with his players in front of the Kop after a late strike earned a 2-2 draw with West Bromwich Albion just two months into his reign, memorable comebacks sealed by last-gasp strikes - the Reds have scored more injury-time goals than any other side during Klopp's tenure - soon became trademarks of Klopp's Liverpool.

Think the 5-4 win at Norwich City in January 2016 when the Reds boss lost his glasses during the ensuing on-pitch celebrations, or the unlikely late turnaround at Anfield to beat Dortmund by the same scoreline on aggregate in the UEFA Europa League quarter-finals three months later.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

As Klopp approaches the end of his Liverpool reign, we take a look at the best team goals his side have scored in the Premier League

This heavy-metal, Gegenpressing-style football may have provided great entertainment in those early Klopp years - while Liverpool were capable of inflicting a first loss of the season on Pep Guardiola's maiden Premier League champions in January 2018 after a seven-goal thriller at Anfield, they could also throw away a 3-1 lead to lose 4-3 at the death at Bournemouth the season before - but not the control the German needed to produce a title-winning side.

That would come later, but in the meantime there were painful - but character-forming - defeats in finals to Manchester City and Sevilla in the 2016 League Cup and Europa League respectively and then to Real Madrid in the Champions League two years later.

Jurgen Klopp manager of Liverpool and Zeljko Buvac fi
Image: Klopp during happier times with his then right-hand man Zeljko Buvac (right)

Some claimed the latter was partly down to the departure of Klopp's long-term assistant Zeljko Buvac, dubbed 'The Brain' for supposedly being the actual mastermind behind all their successes together over the years, who suddenly left the club without explanation on the eve of that final in Kyiv.

Those predicting the subsequent demise of Klopp and Liverpool not only overexaggerated the Bosnian's influence at the club, but also grossly underplayed the German's own role in their partnership.

Klopp being Klopp reacted to that painful Real defeat - when his concussed goalkeeper Loris Karius made two inexplicable errors - by drinking and singing about "lucky Madrid" into the early hours alongside his closest friends, while also vowing to bring the cup with the big ears back to Liverpool one day.

He lived up to his prediction as just 12 months on the Reds were back in the final again and this time they were crowned kings of Europe for a sixth time after beating Tottenham. However, it was their miraculous comeback from 3-0 down to beat Barcelona 4-3 in the semi-finals that not only propelled the club to victory in the Spanish capital, but also acted as a catalyst for all the trophies that were to follow.

That never-to-be forgotten night at Anfield came after a now infamous speech by Klopp to rouse his the players as they gathered in the city centre Hope Street Hotel to watch Manchester City's pivotal league game with Leicester City the night before, when Vincent Kompany's late long-range strike broke Reds hearts as they ultimately finished a point behind Guardiola and Co in that season's title race.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Roy Keane admits that he'd liked to have played under Klopp when he was a player and says that his emotions and honesty are some of the departing Liverpool manager's biggest strengths

But by winning in Madrid, Klopp importantly managed to put an end to the growing narrative that he always stumbled at the last hurdle - the German had lost six of his seven finals in charge or Dortmund and Liverpool before getting over the line at the Wanda Metropolitano.

Not only that, but with the transformative defensive additions of Virgil van Dijk and then Alisson later in 2018 - incredibly Liverpool let in a paltry 22 goals while finishing runners-up to City in 2018-19 - Klopp had now found the perfect balance between defence and attack he had been striving for and has always been the bedrock behind his best sides.

"Everything we did since I'm here and everything my teams do in football is based on really solid, if not nearly perfect, defending. That's where it all starts," Klopp once explained, while perhaps his most oft-heard saying during his time on Merseyside was: "I want us to be horrible to play against."

Image: Klopp with the Premier League trophy in July 2020

And boy were Klopp's Liverpool that between 2018 and 2020 as they racked up 97 points in 2019-20, followed by a club-record 99 points en route to winning their first title in 30 years the following season, the second and third-ever highest points totals in Premier League history.

In fact, so impressive were they that in the calendar year of 2019, the Reds won a record 31 of their 37 league games, with just one defeat (a 2-1 loss at Manchester City in January 2019 in what Jamie Carragher has called technically the highest-quality game in Premier League history) before going on to seal the title at the earliest-ever date in top-flight history thanks to a 44-game unbeaten run.

How Etihad showdown and 11mm decided 2018-19 title
How Etihad showdown and 11mm decided 2018-19 title

Liverpool face Man City in a table-topping clash on Sunday at the Etihad, scene of their pulsating title decider three years ago - will it be just as pivotal this time?

If winning the Champions League and Premier League were the undoubted pinnacles of Klopp's Liverpool reign, there were also low points along the way, with the players unable to celebrate their long-awaited title win in front of their own fans due to Covid restrictions, having to instead do it at a near-empty Anfield in July 2020.

That had an adverse physiological effect on all involved, as did the teams' subsequent injury crisis at the back the following season when despite leading the table on January 1 2021, the Reds' form nosedived so significantly that the side who had gone 68 league games unbeaten at Anfield from April 2017, then lost six home matches in a row between January and March 2020, the worst run in the club's history.

Live Super Sunday

Of course, as well as the chronic defensive injuries - for large parts of their title defence, Liverpool had no fit centre-backs to call upon - not having the support of the Anfield crowd also played a big part in what Klopp called "the lowest point of my managerial career" and so reminding everyone again of that special bond the manager, team and fans had forged together since 2015.

The return of all supporters to stadiums for the start of the 2021-22 campaign, as well as a now fit squad to pick from, saw the immediate return of Klopp's 'mentality monsters', with the manager recharged and his side agonisingly missing out on an historic quadruple.

The German surprised many in April 2022 by agreeing to extend his contract by two years until 2026, announcing the decision in his Melwood office to the tune of the Beatles' 'I feel fine', but ultimately it turned out he did not.

Klopp has spoken subsequently about how draining it was for he and his players to only just miss out on the title again to Manchester City in 2022 and then, unlike in 2019, to lose the Champions League final to a Real side whose goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois was man of the match in Paris.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Klopp opens up about his nine years in charge at Liverpool as he speaks to Sky Sports' Vicky Gomersall ahead of his penultimate home game in charge at the club

As a result, the team struggled to go again the next season, while there were also signs the manager - who due to Covid restrictions was unable to attend his mother's funeral two years earlier - was not his usual self as he bickered with journalists during the Reds' slump at the start of 2023, much like in his final difficult season at Dortmund.

Not only that, but Michael Edwards had left his role as sporting director the previous summer - as did his successor Julian Ward a year later - meaning more responsibilities now falling on Klopp's shoulders, while key confidant Mike Gordon could also no longer act as a vital sounding board having temporarily stepped back from his Boston-based role as president of Fenway Sports Group, who owned the club.

However, despite managing to somehow steer Liverpool into the Champions League on the final day of the 2022/23 season, no one would have been that surprised had Klopp decided to call it a day then.

He did not, though, instead using all his tactical and motivational skills to build Liverpool 2.0 despite a rejigged forward line and an entirely new midfield, keeping the team challenging again in four competitions with his skilful substitutions, including winning an eighth trophy with joyous scenes at Wembley in February, while also contending with another debilitating injury crisis.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

The best of Klopp's final press conference for Liverpool

This rebuilt Reds side were much like Klopp's early chaotic teams, defensively suspect with an inability to keep clean sheets and a tendency to concede first, but at the same time thrilling on the eye, now more possession based with goals from midfield, and Trent Alexander-Arnold converted to a hybrid midfield role as gone were days of the overlapping full-backs as their main attacking source.

All of which brings us back full circle to Klopp's unveiling in 2015 when he also said: "It's not so important what people think when you come in. It's much more important what people think when you leave."

Win £250,000 with Super 6!
Win £250,000 with Super 6!

Correctly predict six scorelines for a chance to win £250,000 for free. Entries by 3pm Saturday.

Well, the man from the Black Forest should be just fine in that regard having not only left an indelible mark on the team itself, but also the city as a whole - he was even awarded the Freedom of Liverpool in 2022 - with the two a match made in Heaven right from the start.

Klopp also asked to be called 'The Normal One' in that first-ever press conference in response to a question about Jose Mourinho being 'The Special One' and that is exactly what we have seen from him in the intervening eight and a half years, with his human side often coming to the surface for all to see.

Whether it be often meeting Sean Cox, the Liverpool fan left with life-changing injuries after being attacked by a Roma supporter in April 2018, or inviting 12-year-old Daire Gorman, who suffers from the rare condition Crommelin Syndrome and is a full-time wheelchair user, to spend time with him and the players, Klopp has shown himself to be more than a manager during his time on Merseyside.

Jurgen Klopp does more than play great football.
Sky Sports' Gary Neville, March 2024

That is why in the end, it is not really about how many trophies Klopp has won during his time at Anfield - he once quipped he was not the right person to ask about how to win the Premier League having only done so once - but more the journey to get there.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Liverpool Disabled Supporters Association chairman Ted Morris explains the impact that Klopp's 'empathy and compassion' has had on the club and the community

And what a ride it has been, full of unforgettable memories, fist pumps and bear hugs, booming laughter and flashes of white teeth, mind-boggling comebacks, heartbreaks and so much more.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

The Liverpool String Quartet performed a moving tribute to Liverpool manager Klopp ahead of his final game at the club

Klopp, 57 in June, says he will now at least try and experience what a normal life feels like for the first time in more than 20 years, spending time with his first grandchild and holidaying in Spain with wife Ulla, although you feel it will not be too long before he is back in a dugout somewhere.

Jamie Carragher, perhaps, best summed it all up when he said: "When you think of Liverpool, you think of Klopp," and it is hard to disagree…

Ad content | Stream Sky Sports on NOW

Stream Sky Sports live with no contract on a Month or Day membership on NOW. Instant access to live action from the Premier League, EFL, F1, England Cricket and so much more.

Around Sky