Jthere were tears, there was a fake trophy presentation with Steven Gerrard’s vase and a famous German singer lay in the rain outside Jürgen Klopp’s house after Liverpool last met Real Madrid in the final of the Champions League. It goes without saying that the Liverpool manager wants another end to Paris. But as a starting point for the recovery of a side that could win a second Champions League in four seasons on Saturday, there’s a solid, sozzled case to be made for those moments in Formby on the morning of May 27, 2018.
Liverpool would rather forget the 3-1 defeat at Kyiv the night before – Sergio Ramos, Mohamed Salah, Salt Bae, Lorius Karius and Gareth Bale is recap enough – and the next morning could have gone the same way for Klopp but for a video of him partying with Die Toten Hosen singer goes viral.
“We saw the European Cup, Madrid were lucky, we swear we will continue to be cool, we will bring it back to Liverpool”, sang the manager of Liverpool in his kitchen alongside Andreas Frege, aka Campino. No masterpiece, admittedly, but to show the world that Liverpool were ready to move on, it was inspired. The final line proved prophetic as Klopp claimed the trophy in Madrid, beating Tottenham in the final 12 months later.
“It started off as one of the worst nights of my life,” Klopp recalled. His memories of a misty night are worth reading in full. “The return flight was obviously horrible. The sentiment was low. The families were on another plane, and the worst moment was yet to come – facing family and friends.
“When we got to Melwood [Liverpool’s then training ground] in our bus, all the women, girlfriends, friends, everyone was crying. Unbelievable. We weren’t crying. I cry quite often in similar situations, but not that day because I was sort of fine. It was a football match, there were strange circumstances, but everyone was crying. My agent was crying! I was going, ‘What’s going on?’
“It was now morning, then we went to the house and let a few people in. It’s Stevie G’s old house, so there was still some furniture in there. There was a large vase in the guest toilet and Peter Krawietz [assistant manager] goes to the bathroom and comes out holding the vase and shouting: “Yes! It looks like the Champions League trophy!’ Everyone took it and had their picture taken with it. ‘Ah, so that’s how I feel.’
“One of the guests is probably Germany’s most famous singer, Campino, a good friend and huge supporter of LFC, like a massive lunatic all his life. Then the song starts. We were all drunk, it was raining a little, we sang it and recorded it on a smartphone. Then someone said, “We have to spread it, the world needs it too.” It’s not a good time when you’re a little drunk to take a move like that. Campino called his agency at his house and said, “Twitter it.”
“They said, ‘Wait, wait, wait, let’s talk to Jürgen; does he really want it? Campino was lying outside in his socks, in the rain, on the grass… “Jürgen, Jürgen! Do you really want to do this?’ ‘Yes of course.’ So bam, it was out. Then it all started, but it was okay. That described the mood we were in. We were already done. The new season had already started and it started with this.
The party ended “in the afternoon”, according to Klopp, who left Merseyside the next day for a well-deserved holiday and to prepare for a season that would end with Liverpool’s sixth European triumph. “It’s really better to suffer together, much better in fact, than to sit alone with your thoughts. It’s not cool,” he said. “We had, not the best time of our lives, but an OK time. The next day was the holidays and that was good too.
Bouncing back from setbacks has been a theme of Klopp’s reign at Liverpool. After being deflated on the final day of the Premier League season last Sunday, when they missed the title by a point at Manchester City, they have to respond again to the Stade de France to add the Champions League to their success in FA and Carabao Cup. At Kyiv in 2018, Klopp felt his team would be stronger despite the pain of losing to Real Madrid.
“I remember a little glimpse of light as I was queuing at the airport where we had to go through security,” he said. “I felt so bad that maybe I just wanted to think there was a light somewhere, I don’t know. But I had this thought: ‘Yes, we can come back next year.’ I only remembered it a year later. I didn’t think about it during the whole Champions League campaign [in 2019] but when we qualified for the final, I remembered that moment at the airport.
“If I had known that next year’s final would be in Madrid, I would have thought: ‘We definitely have to come back.’ I can’t explain it. It wasn’t a clear idea that from here we’re going to start from the bottom and start over like a phoenix. It was just that moment. I really think our history in League champions so far is pretty special. And that’s something to continue.”