One dear person has been missing for Jurgen Klopp at each of his trophy celebrations as a manager.
Klopp’s dad, Norbert, died just four months before he landed his first coaching job at Mainz in 2001 and he will always regret that he he did not live to see him succeed as a manager.
The Liverpool boss, whose middle name is Norbert after his dad, always felt he was living his father’s dream because his grandad denied him the chance to become a footballer.
Klopp’s grandad decided football was not an appropriate career when Kaiserslautern offered the promising Norbert a professional contract at 18.
Norbert put all his energies into his only son’s career, coaching him as he grew up in the Black Forest village of Glatten.
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Klopp struggled with his brand of tough love and felt he was over-critical, especially compared to the care and affection he received from his mum, Elisabeth.
“My mum was just a typical Black Forest mum, caring, loving, full of trust and faith,” he said. “Whatever happened out there, you would come home and she loved you anyway.
“Unfortunately when I describe my dad and I read it from time to time, it’s not fair how it sounds.
“This relationship was much more based on respect and clear messages.
“He was an unbelievable football player. Kaiserslautern were a big, big club in Germany and they offered him a contract at 18.
“But my grandad said ‘you don’t go for this football, you learn something serious’ and didn’t allow him to join them.
“He wanted me to fulfil his dreams.
“I loved all things he wanted me to do. But then it’s one thing that you love doing it and another thing that your dad, your coach, is unhappy with the steps you take. He was a little bit more about giving criticism than praise for what you did. But that was his generation.
“When I told my dad I wanted to do sports science, he was completely on fire. He said ‘yes, do that!’. He had no idea what I could do with it, but I was the first kid of the family who studied, so he was ‘yeah, do that’.
“I know exactly what he wanted me to do, be really successful in sports.
“The real shame of this story is he wasn’t here anymore when I became a manager.”
Klopp, 53, talks movingly about his dad in the new feature-length documentary ‘The End of the Storm’ about Liverpool’s title success last season.
He is reminded of him every time he looks in the mirror and he is surprised by how much he now resembles him.
Klopp is especially sad Norbert is not around because he believes they would be close now.
But he feels he is looking down on him, pestering his friends in heaven to watch every time Liverpool play.
“My father, he died unfortunately nearly 20 years ago,” said Klopp. “Now when I look in a mirror, I am shocked because I look exactly like my father.
“I would today be able to have a brilliant relationship with him because I’m now old enough and strong enough to say what I want to say it in the right tonality.
“So now we could have completely cool conversations about all the things that happened, but unfortunately we cannot do that.
“But I’m a Christian, I believe in God living in heaven and that’s he’s just there, annoying other people, telling them they have to watch this game with him. I’m 100 per cent sure about that.
“If he had seen how my life turned out after I started as a manager, I think he would have been pretty happy.”
* ‘The End of the Storm’ is out on Digital, DVD and Blu Ray on November 30.
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