Human qualities make Klopp the great coach that he is: Weidenfeller

Roman Weidenfeller, who played under Jurgen Klopp at Borussia Dortmund, says the German's human qualities help him get the best out of his team.

Roman Weidenfeller

Former Borussia Dortmund goalkeeper Roman Weidenfeller with fans in Kolkata on Friday.   -  Special Arrangement

It is the human quality of currently the most astute football manager in the world, Jurgen Klopp, that makes him succeed in his job, feels the German gaffer’s former pupil Roman Weidenfeller. The Borussia Dortmund goalkeeping great, who had the best years of his career under Klopp, said it is the human qualities of the present Liverpool FC coach that makes him get the best out of his squad.

Weidenfeller, who won back-to-back Bundesliga titles under Klopp for Borussia Dortmund (in 2011 and 2012), said Klopp is like a “machine on field, a very strong disciplinarian, but off the pitch he is a fantastic person greeting and listening to everyone.” Weidenfeller visited the city on Friday as the ambassador of the Dortmund club, which is looking to draw up partnerships for youth development in the country.

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With Weidenfeller around, it was natural that the discussion hovered around the extraordinary abilities of Klopp, who moved from Dortmund to join Liverpool and steered the club to Champions League glory last year and to the summit in the ongoing Premier League season.

“He knows the art to transform relatively average clubs into champion stuff. He did that with Dortmund and again he is going to do that with Liverpool. Like what he did with Dortmund he has built the Liverpool team stone by stone. They won the Champions League previous season and this season it has already run up a 19-points lead at the top of Premier League,” Weidenfeller said.

Elaborating on Klopp’s success as a coach, Weidenfeller added, “We were 10 points behind Bayern Munich by the winter break of the Bundesliga (in 2012). In that situation Klopp told us to take it easy and stick to the tactics. 'Maybe we can turn things around' he told us. And we retained the title.”

His techniques were a bit bizarre but positive results convinced the players about his methods. “He used to make us run around midnight and sometimes early in the morning but we were convinced about those methods when we got the results,” Weidenfeller said.

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“It is also great to see him grow as a coach. He learnt a lot of things when with Dortmund and he developed further after joining Liverpool. He is all about strategy and tactics now. But as a young coach with Dortmund, he was mostly about motivating the players to bring the best out of the players,” Weidenfeller added, tracing the development of Klopp.

- On winning the World Cup in 2014 and the German national team's future -

When asked about his feelings about the 7-1 win over mighty Brazil in the 2014 World Cup semifinal, Weidenfeller said it was surprising result. “We won it really big as everything that we did surprisingly worked out for us. But we were very respectful of a big team like Brazil and its very passionate fans. We did not get into wild celebrations after that fantastic win respecting the sentiments of the home fans. It was only after the Brazilians fans left the stadium that we went to our fans and celebrated the win. As a result the whole of Brazil acknowledged our gesture and backed us in the final (against Argentina),” Weidenfeller, who was part of the German team that won World Cup in 2014, said.

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Talking about the present German national team, Weidenfeller said it is a young team and will need time to deliver. “The new generation is stepping in and they need some time before they start delivering,” he said. He also noted that Joaquim Low’s future as coach depends on the team’s performance in the UEFA Euro 2020. “The coach is fine for now but may be after the Euro he may be changed. He has a long contract (with the German Federation) but you never know. A lot depends on the how the team does in Euro this year.”

When asked to about the purpose of his trip to India, Weidenfeller said, “Everyone should play football. Borussia Dortmund is focused on youth development and if the children grow up learning the right philosophy of the game then we can well see players from here turning up in teams in Bundesliga or Premier League,” he said.

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There is a possibility that a Dortmund legends could visit Kolkata to play a friendly against a Bengal stars team in the near future.

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