"It's been a crazy ride," said Jürgen Klopp as his crowd-pleasing Liverpool side bid to go "all the way together" in Kyiv.
Article top media content
Hired in 2015, Jürgen Klopp is looking to make the UEFA Champions League trophy his first as Liverpool manager. The 50-year-old talked through his football philosophy as he geared up to take on Real Madrid in Kyiv.
On the road to Kyiv
I'm immensely proud of what the boys have achieved. The number of goals we scored is simply crazy. We've scored seven goals twice and five goals twice, too. That's really [crazy], because we aren't Barcelona, we aren't Real Madrid or Bayern München. We aren't anyone else. We are Liverpool, on the way to becoming a really good team. And performing at such a high level is very cool. To summarise, it's been a crazy ride, but we've earned our place here.
On his relationship with the team
We have a relationship, a business relationship, where I'm the boss and they are my employees, so to speak. But football should not work in that way, because it's a game after all. Me as a person, I want to have a close relationship with them, because I want to understand them. I want to know why things happen. I'm grateful to them for what they've achieved. I'm not the kind of guy who thinks: 'Well, they are getting paid for that. This is what they ought to do.' There are many teams at the same level as us, who earn as much or even more than our players, but they don't perform as well. That's why I'm so grateful, and I've told them so. We're in this journey together. We've come here together. That's how I want to be understood, too. We'll go all the way together: that's the plan.
On Real Madrid
They're the defending champions, and they've won back-to-back titles in this competition. They've done really well under Zinédine Zidane. He's one of the top five players of all time. I'm glad we're not playing against each other – me marking him, or whatever. I'm very glad I can send my players on to the pitch. Just meeting him is awesome. I admired him as a player and respect him as a colleague. It's incredible what he's been doing with Madrid. It's really, really extraordinary. But we're not going [to Kyiv] to grab some jerseys.
On his footballing philosophy
If we've won, then essentially it doesn't matter to me how we've played: a win's a win. However, I know that your chances of winning are dramatically increased when you know how you're winning. That means you have to play a certain style of football. It's about developing a type of football for yourselves which mostly brings success. That's what we're doing – nothing else. The fact that it's sometimes spectacular to watch is, for me, quite right. I love the way the players recognise their own strengths and look to use them, while recognising the strengths of the others and looking to use them.
What he learned from losing with Dortmund in the 2013 final
Nothing. What am I supposed to have learnt from the final? It was late in the season, as it always is with finals. We had a very tight schedule with press duties – it was all new to us. For the lads it still is, but not so much for me. At the end of the day, it's about putting in the best performance you possibly can on the day. That's what you do and then you need a bit of luck in the crucial moments. I'm Liverpool manager, I'm healthy, I have a fantastic family; I have a lot of luck in my life. In finals, that's not been the case so far, so it's a case of keeping on trying and winning by playing as well as possible. It's the only opportunity we have to win a trophy [this season], and we’ll do everything we can to try to bring it to a successful ending for Liverpool.
On how much he wants the trophy
A lot. But you mustn't pin it on me. I'm completely unimportant in the whole thing, and I mean that. Nothing changes for me personally. I've lost a few finals and I'm exactly the same as I would be if I'd won them. And that'll be the case again. But for the club and for the players, I would be over the moon.