Imagine that the position of leader of a small business suddenly falls into the lap of an employee who is not very talented but is very curious and willing to learn.
Thirty years later, this employee is recognized, for the second time, as the best in the world in his role. His secret? Confidence in his own philosophy, his irreverent but at the same time disciplined way, and a lot, a lot of persistence.
It looks like a movie script, but it's the story of the current coach of one of the biggest soccer teams in the world, Liverpool F.C. Do you want to know how the German Jürgen Klopp traveled all this road? Check out the summary!
The coach's biography was originally released in 2017 under the title "Klopp: Bring The Noise".
The author has put together a large collection, with testimonies from several journalists with whom Klopp had contact and former colleagues from different periods as a player and coach, as well as heads of the clubs he worked for.
With an index and a photo gallery of outstanding moments, it has 368 pages, divided into 16 chapters, which go back and forth in the timeline.
Journalist Raphael Honigstein was born in 1973, in the city of Munich, and has lived in London since he was twenty years old. He is an expert on the Premier League (England's national championship) and German football.
He has worked for the British newspaper The Guardian, covering German football, and today he is a reporter for the British vehicles The Athletic UK and the broadcaster BT Sport. He also writes for German magazine SPIEGEL Sport.
In addition, he is the author of the books “Emglischer Fussball”, which brings a German vision of English football and “Das Reboot”, about how German football reinvented itself to win the 2014 World Cup. In 2019, he wrote “BFG” with Per Mertesacker, the biography of the world cup winner.
No one better than Mike Gordon, president of the FSG, the holding that controls Liverpool, to define which public has the most to learn from the coach.
“Jürgen, as a coach, really was on the same level as a corporate leader or someone you would choose to run your company.” These are the words of someone who has been an investor for over 30 years, dealing with the best business leaders and CEOs in Europe and the United States.
These are ideals highlighted all the time, by anyone who refers to Jürgen Klopp, since the beginning of his career. In the following summary, we'll delve into how these ideals helped him during his journey.
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In his eleven years as a player for FSV Mainz (from 1990 to 2001), Klopp has had fourteen different commanders. The instability of the superiors created a certain anarchy in the locker room.
As he was always very interested in tactics, even to the point of being removed from the team for arguing with coaches, Jürgen was offered to take on that position. He didn't hesitate to accept, even secretly considering it a “suicide mission”.
When the decision was announced, press and fans laughed, but he was unfazed. As he was still a player, the team members didn't need to formally address him. Still, he had a natural authority, and the positive demeanor paid off.
At first, he wasn't concerned about winning, but about transmitting the ideas of his mentor and former coach Wolfgang Frank, who some players already knew, and motivating them by making simple choices.
In Jürgen's first two full seasons as commander, Mainz narrowly missed making it to the top flight, being dubbed The Champions of Pain by the newspapers.
The club manager said Klopp was a "Menschenfänger", literally someone who captures people. When he spoke to the fans who greeted the team after the second disappointment, he assured them they would stand up.
Former player Sandro Schwarz says “the message sounded believable because its messenger was trustworthy. He was convincing because he was convinced”.
And so it happened. The following season, Mainz was promoted, even with the worst campaign in history to achieve this feat.
From there, Klopp started to use shared experiences off the field that brought players closer together. He once asked them to write a letter to themselves, sitting around a fire, to be read if the team faced a crisis.
They have had two seasons of wild success against the best clubs in the country. He defended a type of game “based on principles of humanity and respect”, with constant intensity.
In the next season, he ended up not being able to avoid the relegation of Mainz to the second division. He saw the setback as an opportunity to improve himself, but he was unable to return to the first division. Still, his good work for years was noticed.
He left FSV Mainz after a total of 18 years, causing a general commotion among the 30,000 present at his farewell in the city's central square, after being announced as the new coach of Borussia Dortmund at the end of the 2008 season.
The then rookie FSV Mainz coach's most important accomplishments include:
After conquering the city of Mainz and becoming nationally known, Jürgen Klopp was just what Borussia Dortmund needed. He arrived with his face shown on huge billboards near the stadium six weeks before the debut.
The well-known marketing tactic used by the Dortmund team is what is called "sell the sizzle, not the sausage".
According to the author, this raised expectations for the job of someone with a sufficiently large personality, who was willing to exceed the coaching role, he wanted to build a new team.
His striking style, along with his identification with the team and the crowd, worked once again: before the start of the season, fans camped out to buy tickets for the year, with sales having to be halted at 49,300 tickets.
In addition, he cultivated an intimate relationship with each employee, treating them seriously. He also valued the club's history and its investors, having personal conversations with them.
With a difficult start, he was always realistic and honest about his abilities, not pretending to be an idealized individual.
He set goals high and rewarded even when they weren't achieved, just for the extra effort put in. Raphael also points out that, for Klopp, each game was a new chance to make things right.
Eventually, easing the first crises and always demanding the same discipline, leading by example, his work ended up paying off.
In his third season as commander, Borussia Dortmund were national champions with the youngest squad in history to achieve the feat.
Before the start of the next season, Klopp urged players to abide by a seven-rule pact:
Honigsten details that Klopp's Borussia Dortmund showed a way to increase productivity with the use of purely natural and renewable resources: professional ethics, humility and intelligence.
The following year, he was once again national champion, with record points scored. With the victory in the German Cup as well, there was a “change in the center of power”, as defined by the press. Borussia now occupied the top of German football.
His management method consists of proposing possible and immediate objectives to subordinates. The most important match is always the next one to be played.
In 2013, they lost their national titles after big investments by Bayern Munich, who also defeated them in the unprecedented German final of the Champions League, the main club tournament in the world. They kept their head high, with the coach showing respect for the opponent's achievement and pride in his squad.
Eighteen months later, with the loss of irreplaceable parts, injuries and the worst start to the season in Borussia's history, their coach and consequently the entire team lost confidence.
Jürgen himself then realized that it was time to leave, but in a friendly atmosphere, knowing that the seven-year relationship had already paid off. As a final example, the value of the team's shares, from Klopp's entry until his departure, 7 years later, has risen 132%.
When deciding to go to England in 2015, Klopp showed once again his great adaptability, as he considered speech as his main weapon, and language could be an obstacle. “I'll figure it out, I'll study now and I'll make it,” he said.
Club owners were attracted by the energy and his high-intensity, attractive work. Klopp, in the words of a friend from the '90s, gets excited about emotion, empathy, and the possibility of doing something really great.
Intelligence, analytical thinking, logic, clarity, honesty, and the ability to communicate so effectively – even in another language – are cited as qualities that made Klopp stand out in the meeting that defined his hiring.
As he arrived at the team without much time to train, his first message was very clear: The words “movement” and “motivation” have the same Latin root. One thing cannot exist without the other. The implementation of your game system depends on a solid collective commitment.
Also according to Raphael, his trick was to emphasize the connection between performance and effort, instead of associating the former directly with talent, in order to work with the squad he had in his hands. With the English press, he dealt with a much more exaggerated demand and intensity.
To control this, he referred to a famous statement by Portuguese coach José Mourinho, self-titled “The Special One”: “neither an idiot nor a genius. I'm the “Normal One”, a term that showed enormous marketing potential, selling various themed products.
Once again, starting a new job with many adversities, Raphael Honigstein reveals what kept motivating everyone to return to the winning mentality they lost with recent failures.
"A powerful, yet silent commandment: he and the team had a duty to produce a football that excited and maintained the possibility of success until the last second."
Thus, in the first season, they were runner-up in the English League Cup, something Klopp was not satisfied with: “We are upset, but we have to get up. Only idiots are left on the ground waiting for the next defeat”. After that, he renewed his contract until 2022.
With that mindset, the book ends with Liverpool reaching the final of the biggest European competition in 2018, being only the second time they participated in the tournament since 2010. The "Reds" would conquer it the following year.
As proof of the German's success, on the last page of the book, former player, idol and commentator Jamie Carragher says: “If Klopp wins the championship, he would become a true God. They would build a statue for him.” A year later, the feat came to pass.
In his autobiography “Transformando Suor em Ouro” (Turning Sweat Into Gold), the victorious volleyball coach Bernardinho highlights the leader's mission and how his performance is important to enable successful teamwork.
Seth Davis, in “Getting to Us”, brings a collection of stories from successful coaches and shows what they have in common: discipline and the appreciation of work.
Author Karyn Ross explains, in her book “The Kind Leader”, how gentle leadership, based on respect and humility, is able to best engage and connect the team.
What did you think of the winning mentality proposed by the coach to his subordinates? Do you believe the examples in the book can also be applied to your reality? Let us know in the comments!
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And to find out even more about Jürgen Klopp's story, get the full version of the book by clicking on the image below:
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