SMK’s Digital Marketing and Projects Officer (and avid Liverpool fan), Rummena Begum, writes why Jürgen Klopp has become a household name. His support for various campaigns and positive social change should be a boost for us all.
A couple of weeks ago, Jürgen Klopp shocked the footballing world when he announced his departure from Liverpool FC at the end of the season. Gasps were heard, tears were shed, and supporters of the club despaired of finding anyone who could replace him. He had won every trophy possible during his tenure of nearly a decade at the club. Liverpool fans around the world (myself included) remain shocked and heartbroken.
Known for his witty remarks, wild on-field celebrations, big hugs, glares at referees and managerial prowess, Jürgen has formed a deep emotional bond with Liverpool fans that will never be forgotten.
Aside from losing a coaching genius, we’re saddened to be losing him as a person. In a recent social media video, fans were asked if they’d prefer to win the treble at the cost of Klopp leaving. Nobody wanted that deal.
So, what is it about Jürgen Norbert Klopp, besides his handsome looks, dazzling teeth, powerful charisma, and great sense of humour that had people, even rival fans (though they’d never admit it), so enamoured?
Leadership with a conscience
Football managers are perhaps better known for speaking out on VAR controversies in the penalty box (and Jürgen is no exception), but he has also been vocal on issues more typical of the House of Commons dispatch box.
At the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic, Jurgen was asked by a journalist about his views on the topic. He was very honest about what he should and shouldn’t talk about. He told the journalist, “[you shouldn’t ask] people with no knowledge, like me… I don’t understand politics, coronavirus…”
But he has also been known to express his forthright views on other topics. When asked about Brexit, he said (concerning a second referendum), “Let’s think about it again and let’s vote again with the right information”.
He’s been an ambassador and strong advocate for the work of the Liverpool FC Charitable Foundation which has benefited from his renewed commitment to their work.
A few years ago, he joined the Common goal movement, pledging 1% of his earnings to football NGOs around the world.
Former LFC player, Sadio Mane, spoke about how Klopp instructed training to be rescheduled to make things easier for the Muslim players during Ramadan.
When Marcus Rashford was spearheading the child food poverty campaign, Klopp said, “He plays for United, which makes it really tricky, but in these moments, we are as footballers and as human beings always united.”
He has been an avid supporter of the LGBTQ+ community, sporting rainbow laces in every game to raise awareness on the topic. He said in an interview, “I have so many gay friends but I never thought about how it was when they had to say, “by the way, mum, dad – and to everyone else – I’m not exactly how you expected, maybe.”
Klopp also spoke out in support of the Black Lives Matter movement, “This is absolutely a society problem and we have to show finally – and hopefully for the last time – that we are all the same.”
Jürgen is a red
Liverpool is a city with proud socialistic tendencies. And nobody understands that better than Jürgen. He worked hard to understand and learn more about the city – not just the football club – but also the people who live there; their history and culture.
He has commented on his political stance, “I’m on the left, of course, more left than middle. I believe in the welfare state. I’m not privately insured. I would never vote for a party because they promised to lower the top tax rate”.
In 2022, Jürgen was awarded the Freedom of the City of Liverpool, an award granted to individuals in recognition of their exceptional services to the city. Margaret Aspinall (SMK’s Long-term Achievement Award winner, 2017), who is one of the most notable figures of the Hillsborough campaign, spoke on the evening that Klopp received the award, saying that he was “a great human being, a great personality and a great humanitarian”.
Klopp’s dedication to positive social change has infused the city of Liverpool and speaks to something bigger than football, at a time when we can’t rely on politicians to even acknowledge the problems we have as a society. He understands what many of us are forgetting – that political debate belongs to everyone, not just political parties, and it’s part of everyday life whether we acknowledge it or not. Even though he doesn’t take himself too seriously, his commitment to speaking out should be an encouragement to us all.
He knows what his limitations are. He isn’t a political decision-maker, he hasn’t spearheaded a campaign himself (although delivered what he said and put us back on top!).
He simply speaks up for what he believes in with deep passion and conviction.
As our manager, Jürgen Klopp has gifted me with my best memories as a Liverpool fan, but it’s the man himself I will miss the most.
I’m certain of one thing, Jürgen will never walk alone.
Photo credit: Paul Townley 2016