Klopp: Know­ing my dad never got to share in my feats as a coach is tough

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Sport - By Chris Bas­combe

Jur­gen Klopp says he finds it tough com­ing to terms with the fact his fa­ther never had the chance to see him be­come a coach and share in his suc­cesses.

Nor­bert Klopp died shortly be­fore his son be­gan his man­age­rial ca­reer at Mainz in 2001.

The Liver­pool man­ager has of­ten spo­ken about his fa­ther be­ing a “harsh critic”, push­ing him on when he was a young­ster.

Speak­ing can­didly with one of his play­ers, Andy Robert­son, in sup­port of the Duke of Cam­bridge’s Heads Up cam­paign, Klopp said he now sensed his fa­ther’s pres­ence in a more spir­i­tual way.

“My dad never saw me as a man­ager. He died four months be­fore I be­came a man­ager,” said Klopp.

“But the ac­tual thing is my fa­ther was a nat­u­ral coach as well. He pushed me through my ca­reer, but my real [man­age­rial] ca­reer, he never saw. That’s hard, to be hon­est, from time to time.

“What makes it re­ally strange is, now I’m 53, if I sit in a spe­cific an­gle and look in the mir­ror, I am scared to death be­cause I look ex­actly like my fa­ther.

“I never looked like my fa­ther my whole life. I looked like my mother. All of a sud­den, ‘It’s my dad!’. Re­ally crazy. But the sup­port never stops.”

Klopp joined sev­eral foot­balling per­son­al­i­ties to back the part­ner­ship be­tween the Royal Foun­da­tion’s Heads To­gether cam­paign and the Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion, which aims to use the power and in­flu­ence of foot­ball in or­der help bring the sub­ject of men­tal health to a broader au­di­ence.

The Ger­man ref­er­enced the psy­cho­log­i­cal strain put on play­ers and their fam­i­lies dur­ing the lock­down, espe­cially when there were gen­uine fears that years of work to­wards se­cur­ing Liver­pool’s first ti­tle in three decades were at risk.

“There were mo­ments in the lock­down when we thought it is a proper set­back from all of our dreams,” Klopp said. “But it was a set­back for all of us to­gether, and we could calm each other down.”

Dis­cussing his ex­pe­ri­ences of talk­ing about men­tal health, Robert­son said: “When I started mak­ing it as a pro­fes­sional, I think that’s when I strug­gled the most.

“I used to be one that blocked every­thing up. I have opened up a lot bet­ter and [that’s] some­thing I wish I had done ear­lier.”

The #SoundOfSup­port se­ries in­cludes con­ver­sa­tions be­tween Manch­ester City’s Ilkay Gun­do­gan and Phil Fo­den, and Manch­ester United’s Jesse Lin­gard and TV pre­sen­ter Maya Jama.

Lin­gard says the past 12 months have been espe­cially dif­fi­cult.

“Last sea­son, I was go­ing through some things off the field with my family, so it was dif­fi­cult for me to per­form on the field. I’m very family ori­en­tated and my mum was go­ing through some things last year with de­pres­sion,” Lin­gard said.

“In the mean­time, I had to look af­ter my lit­tle brother and sis­ter, who are 12 and 15. You just get to that point where you’re like, ‘I’ve got to ac­tu­ally say some­thing’. I spoke to my family and stuff like that. It felt so much bet­ter.”

Fo­den ad­mits he has a dif­fer­ent out­look on life since be­com­ing a par­ent.

“Be­com­ing a fa­ther, say you have a bad game or some­thing and you come back and see your lit­tle one smil­ing, it makes you think there’s more to life and def­i­nitely brings the best out of me,” he said.

“To al­ways see him smil­ing and things, it just makes me more happy.”

Open­ing up: Manch­ester City’s Ilkay Gun­do­gan and Phil Fo­den chat for #SoundOfSup­port

In­spi­ra­tion: Jur­gen Klopp says his fa­ther was a ‘harsh critic’ but pushed him to suc­ceed

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