Jürgen Klopp, considered one of the greatest managers in world soccer, has announced that he will step down from his position as Liverpool’s head coach at the end of the current season.
Since joining the English Premier League side in 2015, Klopp has guided the club from years of heartbreak back to the pinnacle of European soccer – notably winning a UEFA Champions League title and Liverpool’s first league title in 30 years.
His “heavy metal” style of play – a term Klopp himself used to describe a form of soccer that is in-your-face, intense and based around quick counterattacking play – brought the good times back to a club which was in desperate need of a new direction.
“I can understand that it’s a shock for a lot of people in this moment, when you hear it for the first time, but obviously, I can explain it – or at least try to explain it,” Klopp told the club’s media department.
“I love absolutely everything about this club, I love everything about the city, I love everything about our supporters, I love the team, I love the staff. I love everything. But that I still take this decision shows you that I am convinced it is the one I have to take.”
The announcement came as a shock to Liverpool fans who had fallen in love with Klopp during his energetic and charismatic reign in charge.
His clear vision helped navigate the sleeping giant out of soccer obscurity, returning one of the world’s biggest sporting institutions to its former glory.
Explaining his reasons for stepping down, the 56-year-old said he was determined to do so “slightly early” rather than “too late.”
He said he told the club of his decision back in November, after realizing he was running out of steam when attending meetings about next season.
“It means so much and it’s so important for so many people, I cannot do it on three-wheels,” he told reporters on Friday, speaking about what it means to be Liverpool manager.
“I’ve never wanted to be a passenger. My managing skills [are] based on energy, on emotion, on relationships and it takes all of you, it needs all of you.
“I am who I am and where I am because how I am. If I cannot be that anymore, [I need] to stop it.”
Liverpool also announced Klopp’s assistant managers Pepijn Lijnders and Peter Krawietz, as well as elite development coach Vitor Matos, will also step down.
Outpouring of emotion
“This news was always going to be a body blow to the club whenever it came,” former Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher wrote on X, formally known at Twitter.
“I just thought it would be another few years away. What a manager, what a man, let’s go out with a bang Jurgen!”
Reacting to the news, former Liverpool midfielder Steve McManaman told CNN Sport that Klopp was one of the best managers the club has ever had.
“The way he got the people and the city of Liverpool, and the culture and the way people live and the way people love their football and how whenever the first-team play, it means so much more to them,” McManaman explained.
“Jürgen seemed to get it. That’s why there was a lot of shock within Liverpool fans today.”
The shock announcement was felt across the world, with NBA star LeBron James – who acquired a minority stake in Liverpool back in 2011 – also posting a tribute on social media.
“You are one helluva manager and you’ll never be forgotten and more importantly YOU’LL NEVER WALK ALONE!! The Reds will miss you,” he said, referring to Liverpool’s famous motto.
In addition to an attractive style of play, led for years by the attacking trio of Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mané, Klopp instilled a winning mentality in his players.
Under his guidance, the team won the Champions League, Premier League, FIFA Club World Cup, FA Cup, League Cup and UEFA Super Cup, as well as the FA Community Shield.
Perhaps his most impressive period came after winning the Champions League in 2019, beating Tottenham 2-0 in the final; Liverpool went on to win the Premier League the following season.
As well as silverware, Klopp’s reign with the Reds has been punctuated by some incredible moments.
Chief among them is perhaps the stunning comeback against Barcelona in the semifinals of the Champions League in 2019.
Trailing 3-0 from the first leg, a weakened Liverpool side produced a stunning performance to win the semifinal 4-3 on aggregate.
Liverpool failed to win any trophies last season as Klopp began a rebuild of his squad. This year, though, the Reds are in contention for the league title – they are currently top of the table – and will play Chelsea in the League Cup final in February.
Liverpool has not revealed who is in line to replace Klopp, and the German said he would not be involved in the process of finding his successor.
In terms of his own future, Klopp added that he won’t manage a club or country for at least a year, while ruling out ever taking charge of another English team other than Liverpool.
“The outside world want to use this decision, laugh about it, want to disturb us. We are Liverpool, we went through harder things together,” he said.
“And you went through harder things before me. Let’s make a strength of it. That would be really cool.
“Let’s squeeze everything out of this season and have another thing to smile about when we look back in the future. Thank you.”
This story has been updated with additional information.