Forget winning the Champions League this weekend! Liverpool boss Jürgen Klopp says his biggest achievement in coaching came 15 years ago in orchestrating Mainz's promotion to the Bundesliga.
Klopp had taken charge of Mainz — the club he had played for for 11 years — shortly after hanging up his boots in 2001, and just over three years later secured the club's first-ever place in the top flight by finishing third in Bundesliga 2.
If Klopp ends Liverpool's wait for a first Champions League trophy since 2005, he will be feted alongside the greats who have preceded him in the Anfield dug-out.
For the man himself, the feat he accomplished 12 months before the Reds' unforgettable night against AC Milan in Istanbul will never be bettered.
Watch: Jürgen Klopp, made in the Bundesliga
"Obviously, it's a great thing to win the Champions League, but my greatest success as a coach was promotion to the Bundesliga with Mainz in 2004," the ex-Borussia Dortmund boss, who was at the head of BVB and Liverpool in losing efforts in the 2012/13 and 2017/18 finals, said on Tuesday.
"We had a small squad, strong opponents. What I did with Mainz cannot be topped."
Despite having the smallest budget and stadium in the league, Klopp kept Mainz in the top tier and even qualified for the UEFA Cup the following campaign before suffering relegation, eventually ending an 18-year association with the 05ers in 2008.
He then took over at Dortmund, steering them to back-to-back Bundesliga titles between 2010 and 2012, and re-establishing them as a major force to be reckoned with on both the domestic and European scene. He left BVB in 2015, taking over at Liverpool shortly afterwards.
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