"Just don't beat Dortmund!" Jürgen Klopp (l.) says David Wagner has (r.) exactly what it takes to succeed in the Schalke hot seat. - © 2016 Getty Images
"Just don't beat Dortmund!" Jürgen Klopp (l.) says David Wagner has (r.) exactly what it takes to succeed in the Schalke hot seat. - © 2016 Getty Images

David Wagner: "Jürgen Klopp told me, that Schalke is the club for me"


New Schalke head coach David Wagner has explained the encouraging words of support he received from best friend, and former Borussia Dortmund head coach, Jürgen Klopp.

Schalke announced Wagner's appointment in May, with the former Huddersfield Town boss signing a three-year deal.

Wagner became good friends with Klopp during their time together as players at Mainz in the 1990s, and was best man at the Liverpool coach's wedding in 2005.

Klopp and Wagner worked together on the coaching staff at Borussia Dortmund between 2011 and 2015, and the new Schalke boss says his close friend has had nothing but support for the move which was one of few that could lure him away from the English Premier League.

Wagner (l.) was in charge of the reserves during Klopp's (r.) Bundesliga title-winning reign as Borussia Dortmund head coach. - imago

"Honestly speaking, if you had asked after I left Huddersfield about where I expected to work next, I would've said England," Wagner told Sport1. "But Schalke are just one of a few clubs in the Bundesliga that make it worthwhile to come back from England. From that moment on, I didn't think about the Premier League.

"Kloppo told me that Schalke totally suits me. It's a club with high emotions, with passion and power. Now we'll see whether or not he was right."

After leaving Dortmund, Wagner took up his first head coaching role with Huddersfield. He masterminded their historic promotion to the English Premier League less than a year later and guided the Terriers to top-flight survival in 2017/18. He left the club by mutual consent in January, however, with Huddersfield bottom of the table. Their relegation was confirmed just two months later.

Schalke avoided the same fate following a difficult campaign. Domenico Tedesco had overseen a runners-up finish in his first campaign at the helm but was dismissed in March on the back of a 10-2 aggregate defeat to Manchester City in the UEFA Champions League last 16, and with the Ruhr club sitting just four points clear of the relegation play-off spot.

David Wagner won the Championship play-off final with Huddersfield in 2017, taking the club to the English Premier League for the first time ever. - imago/PA Images

The results picked up under interim coach Huub Stevens as Schalke secured their Bundesliga status with two games to spare, thanks in no small part to a Revierderby victory over local rivals Dortmund. It might not be what the black-and-yellow portion of the Ruhr district want to hear, but for Klopp, there is no better man to put Die Knappen back on an even keel than Wagner.

"I know David better than anyone else, I know how he works and how ambitious he is," Klopp told German daily, BILD. "Although some of my friends on the other side may not like to hear it, I wouldn’t put it past Dave to get Schalke back on track and succeed there.

"He couldn’t have found a more difficult job than Schalke (laughs), but Dave has always had a heart for Schalke because he played there," the 2018/19 UEFA Champions League-winning coach told German media outlet, Sport1.

"It's a big deal for him, a big club. Now they finally have the coach who can calm the whole thing down to normal with proper outside help, and then they can start from there. Maybe my friends in Dortmund will not be happy, but Schalke got a really good coach."