'I ignored my producer as I didn't want to back down to Jürgen Klopp during fiery interview'

BT Sport reporter Des Kelly sits alongside Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp during an interview for BT Sport at Manchester City in 2023
Des Kelly and Jürgen Klopp clashed during an interview for BT Sport, now TNT Sports, back in 2020 -Credit:Getty Images

As Jürgen Klopp prepares for his final game in charge of Liverpool, Anfield will no doubt be full of emotion on Sunday. There will be some though perhaps breathing a sigh of relief as he bids farewell to the Premier League.

Klopp has had his fair share of spiky interactions over the years, whether it be with referees, their assistants, rival managers, or the media. Perhaps his most famous exchange came in 2020.

The German’s feud with TNT Sports, formerly BT Sport, is no secret. The outgoing Liverpool boss recently took aim at the broadcaster one final time, telling them he would never watch their output again.

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His gripe has been the channel regularly showing games at 12:30pm on Saturday, often forcing teams into a quick turnaround after midweek fixtures. Liverpool has been left particularly hard done by with their selections, having played in the slot more times than any other club during Klopp’s tenure.

The issue came to a head nearly four years ago. With teams still playing behind closed doors amid the Covid pandemic, fixtures were coming thick and fast, and the schedule looked to be taking its toll on players.

Having seen James Milner pull up with a hamstring injury against Brighton, Klopp was not happy, and he made BT Sport reporter Des Kelly fully aware of that. The Liverpool boss took aim at the broadcaster, accusing them of being responsible for Milner’s injury.

Ahead of Klopp’s departure, Kelly has now lifted the lid on the infamous interview, and revealed he ignored his producer’s instructions in order to keep speaking to Klopp. “He was ready for a rumble that day,” Kelly told The Athletic.

“It ended up being a perfectly rational conversation, a proper debate. It went on for eight or nine minutes and the producer was in my ear trying to wrap me up two or three times.

“It was a discussion and if I cut it short it’ll be me backing off. Eight or nine minutes doesn’t sound a lot but for a post-match interview, which normally goes on for three minutes tops, it kept going with me ignoring the producer. We almost missed the kick-off of the Man City game at 3pm.”

Kelly would meet Klopp again just days later when Liverpool hosted Ajax in the Champions League. "It was Covid regulations at the time so the ground was empty but there was an army of photographers," he said. "You could hear them clicking as Klopp came out before the game.

"He mumbled something and I couldn’t quite catch what he said. It sounded like, ‘You want some?’, and then he said, ‘What a world we live in’, looking at the cameras. I thought it was weird but we did the interview.

"Gary Lineker was in the studio (as the presenter) and he was listening. He asked, ‘Did you hear what he said?’. It turned out he said, ‘You won, son. What a world we live in’. Even if it was delivered with a bit of vinegar, it was a generous opening. After that, he was fine."

Despite Klopp clearly still holding something of a grudge against his former employer, Kelly defended the departing Liverpool boss’ often confrontational manner. "There’s always a camera trained on him because he’s a big personality and he’s part of the show," Kelly explained.

"It’s all part of the circus. He’s passionate about his side, he wants to energize them, he wants them to press and be on the front foot. He’s driving them on and he wants the crowd to join in. The opposition might not like it but Liverpool fans love it.

"There’s no way he’s an ogre or some sort of bully. He just lets himself off the leash from time to time." says: Klopp has never been one to hold back in interviews, often turning questions back on the reporters. At the end of the day, he is simply defending his club in any way possible, even if it has come across as confrontational at times.

The interview with Kelly in 2020 was the culmination of a problem he has rallied against throughout his time at Anfield. To Kelly’s credit, it was a good move to ignore his producer and keep the interview going, as it made for great viewing.