An emotional farewell to Jurgen Klopp as he manages Liverpool for the last time

The journey’s end was as expected for someone so revered. How could there not be tears for a man who traded on emotion and transformed Liverpool Football Club, bringing hope first then glory during his near nine-year stay?

On a sun-soaked Sunday at Anfield, Jurgen Klopp managed Liverpool for the last time and salty tears filled eyes; from the man himself to his players and fans.

Klopp announced at the beginning of the year that this season would be his last for Liverpool. It was time, he said. Liverpool’s fans, on the other hand, have ever since reluctantly been preparing themselves for this day.

The club announced on Monday that Arne Slot will replace Klopp after leaving his role at Feyenoord. The Dutch coach will take up the position officially on June 1, subject to a work permit.

On Sunday, thousands lined the streets as the team bus made its way to Anfield, flares tinting the air with Liverpool red. A mural of Klopp’s name adorned one stand before the match and fans waved “normal one” flags, referencing his description of himself at his first press conference as Liverpool manager.

“It’s really difficult to take as a human being,” Klopp told Sky Sports before the match of the adoration bestowed on him. But more was to follow.

He was serenaded throughout the match, one which Liverpool won 2-0 against Wolves – not that the day was about results. For the last 10 minutes fans increased the decibels, the idolization, to such an extent that Klopp could no longer hold back the tears. Television cameras panned to his wife, Ulla, who was also crying in the stands.

It would be easy to rattle off the trophies Liverpool have won since Klopp arrived at Anfield in October 2015 – a Premier League title, the Champions League, the FA Cup, two League Cups and more – but his impact on the club cannot be quantified in silverware alone.

“A man who made a seismic impact on this city and its people,” the stadium announcer said as Klopp walked onto the pitch for his post-match presentation.

There were many trophies, arguably there should have been more – two Champions League finals lost, a Europa League final lost, the Premier League lost by a point.

But, for Liverpool’s fans, this gregarious German brought joy back to the club, lifting a team which was mid-table when he took over to the higher echelons of European soccer. He created one of the greatest teams in the club’s history – one that won trophies and played with verve and, in 2020, ended a 30-year wait for a league title.

Fans greet Liverpool's manager Jurgen Klopp ahead the English Premier League soccer match between Liverpool and Wolverhampton Wanderers. - Jon Super/AP

At the final whistle Klopp hugged his players, and some opposition players, too. Captain Virgil van Dijk looked close to tears on their embrace. “I’ve got no words, it’s a very emotional day,” said Van Dijk told Sky Sports.

Upon his arrival, Klopp said he was “the normal one,” but he is, in truth, anything but.

“He’s definitely the special one,” goalkeeper Allison told Sky Sports afterwards. “I’m so thankful and grateful that I had the opportunity to work under Jurgen Klopp.”

The matchday programme had “Danke Jurgen” written on the cover. What more could Liverpool fans say? “… as much as I know it is the right time for me to leave I know also that it will take some getting used to,” Klopp wrote in his programme notes.

It will arguably take Liverpool fans, and even the Premier League, longer to get used to a post-Klopp era. The stadium remained full after the final whistle as fans stayed to listen to Klopp’s farewell speech.

Jurgen Klopp's final game in charge of Liverpool ended in a 2-0 win. - Jon Super/AP
Jurgen Klopp's final game in charge of Liverpool ended in a 2-0 win. - Jon Super/AP

“You’ll Never Walk Alone,” the club’s anthem rang around the stadium one last time for the German. Trent Alexander-Arnold, who has not played for any other manager, was in tears. No one wanted to leave because that would mean it was the end.

“This season we aimed for the moon and ended up in the stars,” Klopp wrote of a campaign which promised a quadruple of trophies but ended with the League Cup and a third-placed finish in the league.

There will be no one else like Klopp. After all, few managers get to choose their ending in such a high-pressured sport.

The Klopp era will not be replicated, Liverpool fans know that, which is why he was given such a special farewell.

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