The UEFA Champions league final is on Saturday (2:45 ET on Fox, called by Gus Johnson). If most of your sports consumption comes via ESPN, I will initiate you to this mysterious event. The Champions league is a European (so, basically global) soccer (football!) competition in which the champions and top finishers in leagues around Europe play against each other for a title Super-Bowl-esque prestige. Two teams from Germany’s Bundesliga will play for the trophy, in one game, on a neutral field, London’s Wembley Stadium. If you know a single team in the Bundesliga, you will know one of the teams: Bayern Munich. The other is a lesser known “underdog” (though not nearly as much of an underdog as some media folk will try to preach… they won two straight Bundesliga titles before Bayern won this year). They are Borussia Dortmund, and they hail from Dortmund, Germany, despite the presence of “Russia” in their name. (Borussia is the latin name for Prussia, according to SOURCES.)
Most importantly, Dortmund’s coach is Jürgen Klopp. Whether you like soccer or not, you will like this man. If not, then you should lock yourself in a YouTube comment section and rot away in the slimy corners of the internets. He is not that other German soccer Jürgen of whom you may have heard. He is better. He is the Dos Equis Man of German soccer. He is the Dunkelweisen Dude.
To start you off, seven seconds of comedic gold.
You think soccer is boring? Jürgen Klopp does not tolerate boring soccer. And he thinks his team is somewhat sexy.
No, really. He is the best.
(While discussing losing his best player to Bayern, cuz they’re the George Steinbrenner Yankees of the Bundesliga. Little-known fact: George Steinbrenner got his last name after his German cousin, Jürgen Stein had his name Americanized at Ellis Island.)
“What can I say?” Klopp says with his only shrug in a 90-minute interview at Puma’s office in Dortmund. “If that’s what Bayern wants … It’s like James Bond – except they are the other guy [the villain].”
Obligatory note: Puma is still a thing in the soccer world. LOLPUMA. I knew Puma was stupid when I was six. I should have short-sold, or whatever that thing is. They sponsor Dortmund.
“We are not a supermarket but they want our players because they know we cannot pay them the same money. It could not be our way to do things like Real and Bayern and not think about taxes – and let the next generation pick up our problems. We need to work seriously and sensibly. We have this amount of money so we can pay that amount. But we lose players. Last year it was Shinji Kagawa.”
He hits his head with his palm. “Shinji Kagawa is one of the best players in the world and he now plays 20 minutes at Manchester United – on the left wing! My heart breaks. Really, I have tears in my eyes. Central midfield is Shinji’s best role. He’s an offensive midfielder with one of the best noses for goal I ever saw. But for most Japanese people it means more to play for Man United than Dortmund. We cried for 20 minutes, in each others’ arms, when he left…if players are patient enough we can develop the team into one of the biggest in the world…”
Some Dortmund players were so affected they could not sleep after hearing Götze’s news. “That’s the truth,” Klopp concedes. “I called six or seven players who I knew were damaged in the heart. They thought they were not good enough – and they wanted to win together. That’s the reason it hurt them so much. But Bayern told Mario: ‘It’s now or never.’ I told him they will come next year. They will come in two years, and then three years. But he’s 20 and he thought: ‘I must go.’ I know how difficult it will be to find a player to replace Götze but, next year, we will play differently. It just takes time…
“I got more in life than I was ever supposed to get – family, money, football. None of my teachers, or my parents, ever believed this would happen to me. So how can this perfect life of mine be spoilt because they take our players? It’s better if they stay but I’m not sure we’d be stronger. You need change to make the next step in the team’s development. If all these players had stayed I would have to go because there’d be nothing new. If I say ‘Go left’, they would say: ‘You’ve told us that 200 times – we don’t want to hear your voice any more.’ That’s life – so you need new players. It’s not an easy situation but I can handle it. I am an absolutely normal guy but it’s not so difficult to find a moment to be their friend or, well, [he grins] teacher.”
Really, read that whole interview. It’s incredible.
There are two songs about him. This one is in English!
Yes, it is not like the Olympic motto ‘The most important thing is not to win but to take part’. The preparations have been extremely intensive and thus there is just one reason why we participate in the final: To win it!
I really hope that people will see that this is the reason why we go there. We have made it so far in the tournament whilst at the same time being the fairest team in the competition and this is also the way we want to present ourselves to the audience in the final, because we are convinced fairplay is the right way.
I hope that this will also work out for us in the final. But I could also not claim we deserve it more than Bayern does. The team that wins in the end will be the team that deserves it the most.
This we will have to respect and acknowledge if it isn’t us, but right now we still have some time to make sure it will be us who lifts the trophy. Until then we will do our best to maximise all our resources.
This is nowhere near the end of his Klopptacular moments. Here, he drinks a beer and burps during an interview. He’s just like you and me! (Plus a couple million euros.) I could go on all day. Just search Jürgen Klopp in YouTube, and be entertained for the rest of your life.
Jürgonna never forget the the day you discovered Jürgen. (Sorry.)