Klopp on clothes, the keys to coaching and team talks

“Your football has to be mirrored by your soul,” Jürgen Klopp says as he explains why his appearance on the touchline has no effect on his team’s performance. Liverpool’s manager is midway through a fascinating answer about his dress code and has an important message for the aspiring coaches listening to him on Zoom. “You have to bring your own character in.” This is an unusual setting for Klopp. It is Liverpool’s first day back in phase one training but the manager of the Premier League’s dominant force has given up part of his afternoon to take part in a mentoring session for Kick It Out, football’s anti-discrimination charity. Troy Townsend, Kick It Out’s head of development, has got top coaches involved in the organisation’s Raise Your Game programme – England’s Gareth Southgate is another star attraction – and has landed Klopp. Gerald Lami, who works at Juventus’s academy in Oman, and Taff Rahman, a Football Association coach educator, are the pair lucky enough to be picking Klopp’s brain, and the Guardian has been invited to sit in on the call.  Lami, buzzing as he holds up a copy of Klopp’s autobiography, takes a risk with a question about the German’s fashion sense. “Coming as a refugee to England, appearance is something I’ve always been kind of cautious about,” the 29-year-old says. How did you go against that traditional look?” The manager of the European champions listens intently before letting out a booming laugh. “What I can read between the lines is that I look like a tramp on the sidelines?” Klopp has taken a shine to Lami, who tells the former Borussia Dortmund manager about moving to England from Albania when he was a boy, his challenging upbringing in east London and falling into a downward spiral after struggling to make it as a footballer. Lami fell in with the wrong crowd and it was only after he was stabbed that he went down a path that has led to coaching in the Middle East. Klopp is impressed and he does not mind being asked about his lack of sartorial elegance. “I was a player and the next day I was the manager,” Klopp says, remembering how he got his break at Mainz at the age of 35. “In my locker room was the tracksuit of the guy who had the job two days before. I know it’s not too cool because we are working in public but then when I came toBorussia Dortmund I thought: ‘Maybe I have to change.’ I went for a whilewearing jeans and a shirt. It’s interesting what you told me about being a kid who came to England as a refugee. You think you have to convince peoplewith the way you look.” As Klopp enters full motivational mode it becomes obvious to see how he connects with his players. He wants Lami to trust himself but also points out the ultimate test will be how his team look on the pitch. But don’t worry: you can be world champion in a suit or a tracksuit. I give everything but I don’t expect I get something for it.” Klopp’s acceptance that defeat is part of life has been a key part of his success at Liverpool, who are within touching distance of winning their first title in 30 years. That creates the mentality of the team.” Rahman, part of the former Birmingham and Derby defender Michael Johnson’s staff when Guyana reached the Gold Cup for the first time last year, asks about communication. “I trust myself to say the right thing in the right moment.” The mind goes back to Liverpool’s finest escape acts under Klopp: the Europa League quarter-final win over Dortmund and fighting back from a 3-0 defeat in the first leg to reach the Champions League final at Barcelona’s expense last season. I said: ‘Boys,this is the day we create a story we can tell our grandchildren.’ “Before Barcelona, it was not planned. If something doesn’t work out, I think my message wasn’t clear enough, not that they aretoo dumb to get what I told them. I just have to improve my message.” With the clock ticking Klopp is asked for two more tips. “The interesting fact with football is pretty much everybody thinks he is an expert. That’s why so many people think they understand it but stop so early. “The moment you stop learning, the game develops. The moment you try to act like somebody else, you constantly think: ‘What would he do?’ Be yourself and learn more about the game. Countdown: The biggest spending managers in world football (ReadSport)