An ex-team-mate and former member of the German’s backroom staff shared some insight into the charismatic trainer’s passionate personality
Mainz goalkeeping coach Stephan Kuhnert has revealed what it was like to work alongside Jurgen Klopp, with the Liverpool boss having been in charge of the Bundesliga side at the start of his managerial career.
After cutting his teeth at Mainz, Klopp has gone on to become one of the world’s top coaches, winning two top-flight titles with Borussia Dortmund before his Champions League, Super Cup and Club World Cup triumphs with the Reds.
And Kuhnert, who played alongside the 52-year-old for nine years before working with him as part of the German’s backroom staff at Mainz, has given a unique insight into what it was really like to work closely with the Liverpool manager.
He told Goal and SPOX: “I had a special connection with Kloppo because I played alongside him. No one can match his intense emotion but I always saw eye-to-eye with him.
“He could present ‘Wetten, dass..?’ (a famous German TV entertainment show) and wouldn’t really have to prepare for it. It just comes naturally. You can see that with the positive interactions he has with his players.
“Even the 20th man in the squad is always ready, you never hear anything bad said about him. Kloppo is a people person – dealing with people is his greatest strength.”
Kuhnert remembers one particular incident that saw the goalkeeping coach and Klopp travel for miles to what they thought was going to be a festival, only to discover that he had got the date wrong.
He explained: “We both wanted to go to a Schützenfest (a traditional German festival) in the region on a day off at the training camp in Herzlake. So we got on the bikes and rode through the middle of nowhere forever. It was almost really dark and then we finally got there.
“At the entrance to the village we saw a huge sign and it said that the fete didn’t take place until a week later. I don’t know, I somehow made a mistake. Anyway, we had to cycle all the way back and he insulted me the whole way. I had to take a lot but I deserved it!”
Kuhnert has been part of the set-up at Mainz for some 30 years and worked with 12 different coaches during his time at the club.
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Paris Saint-Germain head coach Thomas Tuchel, who followed a similar path to Klopp in heading to Dortmund after a spell at Mainz, is one such manager that crossed paths with Kuhnert, and he only had positive words to say about the 46-year-old.
“I got on well with Thomas, he’s actually a pleasant guy,” he said. “He gives off a different impression on the outside but there are times when he can fool around and be a funny guy. Appearances can be deceiving.
“Of course, he was sometimes tough to deal with and he wasn’t someone you could act up with. But he was able to really inspire the players because he is not only an excellent technical coach.”