Cologne - On 30 May 2015, Jürgen Klopp waved goodbye to the Borussia Dortmund fans at Berlin’s Olympiastadion after his final game as the club’s head coach after seven years in the job.
The occasion may have been soured by defeat to VfL Wolfsburg in the DFB Cup final, but ‘Kloppo’ had already carved himself a permanent place in the hearts of all Dortmund fans, having led BVB to two league titles, a DFB Cup, the club’s first ever domestic double and the UEFA Champions League final.
Seven long years of hard work, sweat and tears had taken their toll on the jovial Stuttgart native, however, and he he welcomed the opportunity to take a break from the game. These days, the 47-year-old is doing just that, but if you thought his recuperation would have involved some sort of involvement with the beautiful game, you would be dead wrong.
No bed of roses
“Taking time out can be a challenge in itself, but at the moment, that’s fine with me. Recharging my batteries is now my motivation” he revealed to the Frankfurt-based German Financial Advisors (Deutsche Vermögensberatung), his first official interview since leaving Borussia in May.
There was no shortage of offers that came his way in the form of an instant return to coaching, but he gave them all short shrift in order to follow through on his decision to extricate himself from the game. “Having to do nothing is not something I’m not having any difficulty with! It was always a very intense time [as a coach] and it wasn’t always a bed of roses.”
‘Much more active’
So after turning those job offers down, what are these activities that now occupy the time of one of Europe’s most talented and charismatic coaches? “Well I’ve rediscovered doing sport for myself. If you observe sport being played all day long but don’t get involved yourself... I you just don’t have the time for it, and it’s like that for a lot of people who work. Now I’m much more active.”
Indeed, Klopp has wasted no time getting back into the rhythm of physical exercise. He was seen at a recent UEFA coaching day in Nyon, Switzerland looking decidedly thinner than he did last season, and instead of pondering tactics, he spends most of his time with his wife Ulla and his dog Emma at their thatched cottage on the north German island of Sylt, his head often buried in a book.
In his absence, of course, Dortmund have exploded into form under new coach Thomas Tuchel, winning eight straight matches and climbing to the top of the league. Klopp has observed all this from afar, but has nevertheless maintained contact with the club. “He’s been in touch a few times,” said BVB’s CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke recently. “I can feel that he still really wants us to succeed.”
Klopp’s memorable smile and quirky, amicable demeanour have been so far missed in the German top flight this season, but those batteries will one day be recharged and ready to be put to use in a dugout or on a training ground somewhere. When that will be is anyone’s guess at present, but the man himself is taking it all in his stride. “I’m relaxed. Everything’s good!"