Jürgen Klopp: A world-class coach, made in the Bundesliga
Witness those sprints down the touchline, cheeks puffing and fist pumping, when his team scores; the no-holds-barred frankness of his interviews; the sense of humour at press conferences. Jürgen Klopp has football running through his veins.
He took Mainz into the Bundesliga for the first time in 2004 and his Liverpool side in the English Premier League are playing some of the most exciting football in Europe at present, but there can be no doubt that it was Klopp’s spell at Borussia Dortmund between 2008 and 2015 that made him the man, the manager and the entertainer he is today.
bundesliga.com looks back on seven wonderful years at SIGNAL Iduna Park…
Watch: Jürgen Klopp: Made in Bundesliga
2008/09 – Sowing the seeds
Upon arriving at Dortmund, Klopp instantly set about making the club a feared one in the Bundesliga once again. BVB would go the entire league season unbeaten at home, while arguably the greatest moment of the campaign came against Schalke, as Dortmund fought back from 3-0 down to draw 3-3.
Borussia missed out on qualifying for Europe on goal difference in the final game of the season, but a sixth-placed finish was proof that Klopp had his side headed in the right direction once again after a trouble period beforehand.
2009/10 – Back in Europe
“I just want to run out onto a European pitch on a Thursday night, instead of sitting on the couch and watching it at home,” said Klopp during the 2009/10 campaign. By season’s end, he would get his wish.
More accustomed to Klopp’s novel playing style of high pressing and rapid counter-attacking, BVB’s progression up the table continued. Mats Hummels, Sven Bender, Nuri Sahin, Neven Subotic and Kevin Großkreutz all enjoyed outstanding seasons, while Lucas Barrios led from the front by scoring 19 times to fire Borussia into Europe for the first time in seven years.
2010/11 – Champions!
The campaign started inauspiciously for Klopp’s charges as they fell to a 2-0 home defeat to Bayer Leverkusen, but the early-season cobwebs were quickly swept away with a run of six straight wins in the autumn followed by another seven shortly before the winter break.
Elimination from the cup competitions worked to their favour in the second half of the season, and with fresh blood integrated into the side in the form of Mario Götze and Robert Lewandowski, there was no stopping the Black-and-Yellows celebrating a first league title since 2002 with two matches to spare.
2011-12 – Double winners
Regardless of what else Klopp achieves in his career, there cannot be much that will eclipse 2011/12. Dortmund were beaten three times in the first six league games of the season, but they used that disappointment as a springboard to deliver what remains the greatest domestic season in their history.
BVB did not lose another game all campaign and went on to win the league by eight points ahead of Bayern, setting a Bundesliga points record and playing some of the most thrilling football German fans had ever seen. The season’s denouement could not have gone better either.
Shinji Kagawa scored seconds into the DFB Cup final against their Munich rivals and Lewandowski grabbed a hat-trick as Dortmund embarrassed the Bavarians 5-2 to win the league and cup double for the first and only time in their history. Taking stock of a remarkable season, the only negative was coming up short in Europe again, but it wouldn’t take long to remedy that…
2012-13 – Heartbreak at Wembley
Borussia had unfinished business on the continent heading into 2012/13, and from the moment they were drawn in the so-called “group of death” alongside Manchester City, Real Madrid and Ajax, something clicked in the side’s collective mindset to ensure they brought their A-game to Europe’s top table this time.
Topping their group, Dortmund then won out against Shakhtar Donetsk and Malaga in a memorable quarter-final clash. Facing Madrid again in the last four, Lewandowski made history by netting four goals in the first leg and after a gutsy second-leg display, Dortmund were in their first Champions League final since 1997.
At London’s Wembley Stadium, Germany’s two best clubs served up one of the great European Cup finals. Dortmund finished on the wrong end of an Arjen Robben goal as Bayern prevailed 2-1, but BVB were back where Klopp wanted them: among the best clubs in Europe. Moreover, Dortmund's thrilling brand of "heavy-metal", gegenpressing-focused football was a breath of fresh air after the years of possession-based dominance in the European game, and Klopp, as its conductor, had established himself as one of the world's brightest tactical minds.
2013/14 - Cup disappointment
Dortmund’s standing in the world game had risen immeasurably since Klopp’s arrival, but in 2013 he was presented with a new challenge. Pep Guardiola pitched up at Bayern Munich and had Klopp’s former favourite Götze among his star-studded cast.
Borussia competed well in Europe once again and reached the last eight of the Champions League, but fell short of Guardiola’s Bayern side that won the league with a record 90 points. Klopp’s side reached another DFB Cup final but once again were out of luck against their perennial rivals from Munich, who triumphed in Berlin for the second year running.
2014/15 - The fondest of farewells
Ever one to put a brave face on things, Klopp’s capacity for optimism was severely tested in his final season with the Westphalians. Things seemed to go from bad to worse in the first half of the season as BVB suffered ten Bundesliga defeats and languished second from bottom over winter.
Spring brought a change in fortunes for Klopp, and a strong end to the campaign saw BVB finish in seventh and qualify for Europe. Indeed, in the circumstances, that Rückrunde could be seen as one of his strongest periods in charge, as Dortmund also reached the DFB Cup final for the third season running. They were, however, beaten by a Kevin De Bruyne-inspired Wolfsburg.
Having announced his decision to leave BVB in April, more disappointment at Berlin’s Olympiastadion may not have been the perfect goodbye, but those who witnessed his final home match in charge – a 3-2 win over Werder Bremen followed by a tearful farewell from Klopp to the BVB faithful – will forever hold in the highest regard one of Dortmund’s greatest representatives and a modern footballing legend.