Borussia Dortmund CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke has opened up on how he tried to tempt Jurgen Klopp to rejoin the club from Liverpool in 2018.
During his seven-year spell at the Westfalenstadion, Klopp won back-to-back Bundesliga titles and reached the Champions League final in 2013.
Did Klopp nearly leave Anfield? Five things to know…
- Klopp managed Borussia Dortmund between 2008 and 2015, winning three major trophies.
- He joined Liverpool in October 2015 and masterminded a Champions League win last term.
- Dortmund were in need of a new coach in the summer of 2018 following the departure of Peter Stoger.
- The club ultimately appointed Lucien Favre but the outcome could have been entirely different.
- Club CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke has now revealed how he tried to lure Klopp back to Dortmund that summer.
In 2015 Klopp decided to leave Die Borussen, and has since flourished in the Anfield dugout, winning Liverpool a sixth European crown last season.
His success on Merseyside prompted Watzke to try and bring him back to the Ruhr district in the summer of 2018, but Klopp was intent on honouring his Liverpool contract.
“I knew that Jurgen would [decline], that he will fulfil his contract in Liverpool,” Watzke is quoted as saying in a new book about his career, ‘REAL LOVE. A life with BVB’.
“Jurgen has always fulfilled his contracts, but if you want to go new ways and we had to break new ground at BVB, then at least I had to ask Jurgen if he could possibly imagine that.
“I did not expect that at all, but I would not have forgiven myself for not asking him at that moment.”
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“He is always honest”
Klopp has been a resounding success at Anfield since pitching up four years ago and could etch his name even further into Liverpool folklore if he helps guide the club to a first ever Premier League title this season.
The Reds currently boast an eight-point advantage over reigning champions Manchester City, and Watzke believes Klopp’s ability to consistently yield success comes down to his ‘honesty’ as a manager.
He added: “The most important thing in our relationship was and is that we can rely on each other blindly.
“Jurgen never lied to me. He is always honest, even in the job. And I never lied to him.
“Even in the most difficult phase, in the season of separation, when we crashed to the last place sometime shortly before the separation in the Bundesliga, that was the case.
“That sounds so obvious when you say that, but I’ve experienced it in a different way in this business and with other coaches.”
“Have you been drinking?”
‘REAL LOVE. A life with BVB’ also includes Klopp’s response to the conversation he had with Watzke.
The Liverpool boss said: “At some point my phone rang while I was on the plane and Aki was on it: ‘Jurgen, you have to come back’. I laughed, I thought he was kidding.
“‘Are you stupid, have you been drinking? How do you get that idea, I have a few more years in Liverpool’.
“I do not know how serious he was at that moment, but I realised that he wanted me to be more willing to respond.”