Jurgen Klopp’s relationship with Mats Hummels stretches back further than their days together at Borussia Dortmund.
An old report from German newspaper Allgemeine Zeitung has been unearthed that reveals Klopp used to babysit Hummels when he was a toddler.
Yes, you read that correctly. Along with football player, Klopp can list childcare among his list of past occupations.
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It details how the commitments of Hummels’ parents forced them to seek Klopp’s assistance. The Dortmund defender’s mother was a sports journalist at ZDF, while his father was a coach with SV Wehen before moving to Mainz.
Klopp was a Mainz player at this point but still found the time to babysit a child who would go on to win the World Cup with Germany.
THE TRANSLATED REPORT
The story goes a long way to explaining Klopp’s managerial style. The tight-knit relationship he develops with his players is a trademark of his approach to football management.
Jordan Ibe described him as a “father figure” within two months of Klopp’s arrival at Anfield in a detailed insight into the charismatic manager’s methods.
Ibe added that Klopp gives all of his players freedom.
“One on one, he’s really good,” the Liverpool winger told the Independent in December. “He’s building relationships.
“The older players, you can see the respect [they have for him]. With the younger ones like me he’s a father figure. He’s cool, you know? He understands. On the pitch you don’t feel any pressure.
“It’s the freedom he gives you, letting you get on with what you need to do, just making sure you work hard at the same time.
“The thing that’s in his heart is the work off the ball: winning tackles.
“From the youngest player to the oldest player in the team, he’s given them freedom. Say I might lose the ball four times, I won’t hear anything from him, unless I don’t work to get it back.”
Another method Klopp uses to motivate his players is to offer them constant encouragement.
Ibe continued: “We have a meeting in the hours before we go into the dressing room. There, he’ll encourage us: make us feel good.
“The manager, if he wants to speak to a player, will come, sit down next to you and talk quietly, running through things. Before we go out to play? That’s when he builds everyone up.
“He likes us to put the fear into them [the opposition]. It could be Arsenal, it could be anyone; he just wants us to be determined – to be off the wall. When you win a tackle, you see how excited he gets – it’s as if it’s a goal. Every second matters if you want the result.”
Klopp will meet Hummels again when Liverpool take on Borussia Dortmund in the Europa League.