Kloppo, We Salute You

The football world and, indeed, the news bulletins across the world, were thrown into shock on January 26th when Jurgen Klopp announced he would be standing down as Liverpool Football Club manager at the end of this season.

As a Liverpool fan, I have watched his career with fascination and interest over the past 9 years. His passion from the touchline, his burning drive to win, and his charismatic personality has made him a great favourite with fans and players alike.

He has known great success, winning multiple trophies in his time in charge, including the FA Cup, the Champions League, the Premier League, and the UEFA Super Cup. In this, his final season,  his side remain in contention for adding to his trophy collection, so many wonder why he has announced his departure at this point in the season. He spoke about running out of energy and how the job is all consuming. He spoke about keeping his players and the fans informed, and wanting to keep them focussed on the remaining games, rather than getting caught up in speculation about his future. 

One of my recent memories of him is a video that was released in December about a 12 year old Irish superfan called Daire Gorman. Daire was born  with a rare genetic syndrome called Crommelin Syndrome. It means his arms are much shorter and he can’t walk and needs a wheelchair. His passion in life is Liverpool Football Club and, as a special treat, he got to live his dream and go to a home match in Anfield. When there he got so emotional during the singing of the anthem ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ that he began to cry uncontrollably and couldn’t sing anymore. 

A video was released of his reaction to this song and went viral on the internet. Jurgen Klopp got in touch and invited him to come and watch another game and to meet him and the players at the training ground. The video is moving and mesmerising as this remarkable young man meets his sporting heroes and the highlight for me was when Klopp sat down for a chat with him. Check out the video on YouTube or social media. Just type in Daire Gorman and Jurgen Klopp.

He spoke with him about the words in that song ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ and the feeling that wells up in both of them as they hear it sung before a home game. He spoke of how Daire considered this one of the greatest days of his life, and shared that it had been one of the greatest of his own, to meet someone like Daire who had such a passion for the club was, indeed, an honour and filled his own heart and spirit with joy.

When he announced his impending resignation a month later, he referenced Daire in his press conference and told the assembled press corps that he would be explaining his reasons in a message to him.

I’ve watched the way Klopp has reached out to the family of Sean Cox, another Irish superfan who was attacked by Italian football fans before a European game and left with life changing injuries. I notice the way he has instilled a culture in the club that respects the Muslim players and allows them to observe seasons like Ramadan and practices like fasting and observing various dietary requirements.

I’ve noticed the pastoral way in which he looks after his players at times of personal crisis and loss. Most recently, he has been supporting the Northern Ireland star, Conor Bradley, following the death of his father at the weekend.

When his team loses, as they did at the weekend in a top of the table clash at Arsenal, he is candid in his assessment of what went wrong, but looks to learn and improve from what went wrong. 

He speaks very openly about the important part faith plays in his own life. A significant turning point was the death of his own father in 1998. In an interview with a German interviewer, I saw quoted recently he said, ‘To be a believer, but not to want to talk about it, I do not know how it would work. If anyone asks me about my faith, I give information, not because I claim to be any sort of missionary but, when I look at me and my life, and I take time for that every day, then I feel I am in sensationally good hands.”

To be a football manager in a Premier League club is a very pressurised position. You are only as good as your last few results. You have to manage very wealthy players with big egos in a very competitive environment. You have to explain decisions, build a team, spend your money wisely in buying and selling players and live under the scrutiny of a global audience who are passionate about the team you are managing.

Klopp knew for himself what it means in life to never walk alone. We, too, can know that reassurance as we embark on our own walk and relationship with Jesus Christ. We can know what it is to live life in sensationally good hands. 

In about nine days we will be beginning our special season of midweek Lenten services. It will be an opportunity to explore and go deeper on the spiritual life together. This year we are looking at lessons from the Benedictine tradition to help us grow spiritually on Thursdays at 7.30pm.

I also wanted to make people aware of confirmation classes beginning on Sunday 25th February from 4.30 pm-5.30 pm in the coffee bar. If you are a teenager or an adult who would like to explore faith for yourself, please get in touch with one of the clergy. The teenagers will be meeting in the coffee bar and we sometimes prepare separately with adults, if there is an interest in a separate class.

The blog will be taking a break next week, but look forward to speaking again soon and, hopefully, seeing you at our first midweek Lenten service on Thursday 15th February in church at 7.30pm.

Much love to everyone,


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