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