Jürgen Klopp ‘Relieved And Emotional’ After Liverpool’s Champions League Win
• Klopp says James Milner’s rousing speech paved way for victory
• Mauricio Pochettino says it is too early to talk about his future
By Andy Hunter
Jürgen Klopp said he was overwhelmed by Liverpool’s Champions League triumph and the greatest night of his career as the club became champions of Europe for a sixth time with victory over Tottenham.
The Liverpool manager received a call of congratulation from his Manchester City rival Pep Guardiola, in which the pair vowed “to kick each other’s butts again next season”, after ending a run of six consecutive cup final defeats with a 2-0 win against Mauricio Pochettino’s team in Madrid. Mohamed Salah scored a penalty awarded after only 22 seconds, before Divock Origi sealed the first trophy of Klopp’s Liverpool reign in the 87th minute. Goalkeeper Alisson was in commanding form as Spurs created more chances but lacked the champions’ clinical touch.
“This may be the best night of my life, professional wise,” Klopp said. “This is so important. Tonight it’s really emotional. I am overwhelmed to be honest but I’m much calmer than I thought I would be when it finally happened.
“I feel mostly relieved, to be honest. Relieved for my family because the last six times we were away on holiday and always with a silver medal and that doesn’t feel so cool. This is for the boys, the fans and for the owners who do not put any pressure on us and appreciate the development of huge steps we have made. For the players, they were pretty much crying on the pitch because it was so emotional, so big, and it means so much to us. I have sat here many times explaining how we lost this game. Now I don’t want to explain why we won, I just want to enjoy that we won.”
Klopp credited James Milner, who missed out on a place in the starting lineup, with galvanising his players with a rousing speech before kick-off. “Without Millie’s dressing-room talk, with a non-native manager, I think it would not have been possible to win this,” he said. “I am so happy for the boys. You know what people have said about a couple of the players of this team. Jordan Henderson is captain of the Champions League winner of 2019. That is satisfying.”
The Liverpool manager also revealed Guardiola was among the first to send best wishes via a call to Lee Nobes, the former City physio who switched to Anfield this season. He explained: “Our head physio worked for Manchester City at the start of the year but he wanted to win the Champions League – no, it’s a joke! We promised each other that we will kick each other’s butts again next season. We will go for everything and see what we get.”
Pochettino defended his decision to start and persist with Harry Kane, who was anonymous on his return following a six-week lay off due to ankle ligament damage. “You are creating a drama and there isn’t a drama,” said the Tottenham manager. “He finished the game fresh. He didn’t score like the others didn’t score. It was my decision and it was taken with all the analysis and all the information. I don’t regret my decision.”
Pochettino insisted the aftermath of defeat was not the time to discuss his future. “It’s too early to talk a lot now, so early,” he said. “We need to assimilate that defeat. For sure we are going to have time to talk in the future. The future can be tomorrow, after tomorrow.”
He admitted it was a painful night: “A final is about winning and the winners. To concede a penalty after 30 seconds was difficult and changed the plans. It had a massive impact on the team but the team was great. We had more chances but they were more clinical in front of goal. It is so painful but at the same time we have to be calm and be proud. I want to congratulate Liverpool too. They did a fantastic season.
“It would have been incredible to win tonight and lift the trophy. It would have surprised a lot of people because for the last five years Tottenham prioritised building the stadium and spent zero pounds [on players]. It is historical and hopefully the start of a successful period for the club.”