Jurgen Klopp on invite he can't refuse and what will happen after Liverpool exit

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - MAY 5: Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp celebrates after the Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Tottenham Hotspur at Anfield on May 5, 2024 in Liverpool, England.(Photo by Visionhaus/Getty Images)
Jurgen Klopp's time as Liverpool manager will come to an emotional end at Anfield on Tuesday -Credit:Visionhaus/Getty Images

The football world comes full circle for Jurgen Klopp at the start of next month. But having been on the touchline the last time Borussia Dortmund were in a Champions League final at Wembley, this time the departing Liverpool boss will be in the stands.

And rather than plotting the downfall of Dortmund's opponents, Klopp has another issue with which to contend when his former club take on Real Madrid on June 1.

"I have got an invitation now for the Champions League final," he says. "They said, 'I don't think he will come', but of course I will come, it's the Champions League final and I have nothing to do really!

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"But then I need more tickets too. It's the first time in my life I'm asking for tickets - normally it's me who is always being asked! It's a really strange feeling. I never did, I never have had to ask for tickets. Now I am asking it really feels strange.

"That's one thing, besides that we didn't plan anything (after he leaves Liverpool). At the Euros we will watch games and have tickets for a few games. Being in Germany for a long time, meeting friends, nothing spectacular. Just easy-going, not planning a pre-season, I will definitely not do that, and not being involved in any transfer talks, which is such a difference. I'm really looking forward to it."

Having had only a few months away from football since making his professional debut with Mainz as a 23-year-old in 1990 - a rest cut short by the call from Liverpool in October 2015 - Klopp is now ready to adjust to a new life without the day-to-day responsibilities demanded of the game, with his last hurrah as Reds boss coming against Wolves on Sunday at what will be an emotional Anfield.

Diego Simeone, the firebrand Atletico Madrid boss, once stated when discussing the weight of responsibility as a manager that he is at his happiest when asleep because nobody can talk to him. And, for Klopp, such an opinion resonates.

"I hope everybody recognises that I'm a little bit different to him!" he laughs. "But I recognise what he is saying, absolutely. Meeting me, besides Ulla (his wife) pretty much means talking about football. I am for people like Google - 'why do you do that? why do you do that? blah blah blah'. Visiting friends come over, watch the game and it's for me work and for them a holiday. Family come over, and it's for me work and for them a holiday.

"I don't have a personal problem with you (journalists) but you deliver the s**t message when I'm not in my best moment. It's just where we clash.

"But it's very often the moment you go asleep (referencing initial question). I listen to a lot of audio books. I love to read but when I read everyone gets to talk to me. When I have the headphones on then people realise I'm obviously not listening. It is like that. The responsibility for the whole thing, it's probably one of my strongest characteristics to feel responsible for an incredible amount of things. If I know about something in that moment and think for me that it could be in my reach then I'm responsible for it."

From around half six on Sunday, though, such concerns regarding Liverpool will not be the worry of Klopp. Indeed, a few hours after the German held his final pre-match press conference as Reds manager at the AXA Training Centre on Friday, Feyenoord boss Arne Slot confirmed the open secret that he would be next in line.

Klopp announced back in January his intention to leave at the end of the season after almost nine years in charge at Anfield, and while convinced there will be no problems with his successor at the club, he is acutely aware of the impact his departure will have on the close-knit community he has helped foster.

"It was a big thing when I said that I would step aside here, because I know what it means to a lot of other people, what they think and how they are used to me (being here)," he says. "There have a really great mood in here, a really good relationship. Bad days or good days, there is a really nice vibe in this building. We like each other. The reason for that is because if I don't feel great when I enter the building, I don't let them feel that. It's not that I come in and go, 'What are you doing? You're late!' and so on. Not at all. We really like working with each other.

"I know the next one (manager) will be a nice fella and everything will be fine, but it will be a change. There's a lot of uncertainty for the people, and I didn't want that for them. But I knew if I did it (chose to leave) in another year or another two years, it would be exactly the same for these people, but in one year or two years. That cannot be the reason for not doing it. But it was a big part, I had to overcome that.

"I had to think of myself first, which doesn't happen a lot actually as I can deal with pretty much everything. So that means come to me and tell me and it's fine, I will sort it or not, but I can take care of it. But that has changed. With all the changes now, coaches going everywhere, for some it's super, for some it's okay. But we had nearly nine years together at a club and it's really rare that you have that. We have to appreciate the time together and that's how we all see it now but at the first moment it was obviously difficult."

While not retirement, the sabbatical - Klopp is determined to take at least a year off and spend it with his family, having recently become a grandfather - will give him an opportunity to live a life away from football. Will, though, he miss the game?

"I don’t know, obviously," he says. "I didn’t miss anything in the short break I had after Dortmund, I had to sometimes realise on Saturday that there is the Bundesliga. But it’s my life so I might miss it. But I need to have a look on the other side because it makes absolutely no sense.

"I love what I do but it’s super intense and there is no space for anything else. There is no space. There is just not. If you look at my three clubs, we always built a training ground, we always extend a stadium or build a stadium, whatever, so these jobs, I had not normal jobs, I was not a coach in the sense of you plan a session, go home and have a shower and especially not here. That is how it is.

"I need to find out if I will miss it and if I miss it, I could change that or I will realise, but it is still so good, all the rest, that I miss it and try to get it from somewhere else. So I turn 57 in a few months, I will not stop working, but must it be exactly that? I don’t think so in the moment but we will see later.

"Obviously the world is crazy and football directors, managers, there are a lot of clubs who are not 100% sure so if I leave the door a little bit open and say, 'I could sign a contract today for next season or probably (starting in) two years' - I just don’t want that at all. I want to have a proper break and figure out what that does for me."

If ever anyone has earned a break from football, it's Klopp. A new era awaits - for both Liverpool and their departing manager.