This article first appeared in The Sportsman on 05/09/19
Anyone watching the Amazon Prime documentary Inside Borussia Dortmund will have been shocked by a story told - apparently for the first time - by the now Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp.
“I was really wasted which may have been noticeable in some interviews,” he admits candidly. “And I don’t remember much that makes any sense.”
Klopp was referring to the wild celebrations which followed Borussia Dortmund’s title win in 2011, a triumph regarded as one of the greatest moments in the club’s history.
“I do remember one thing,” Klopp continued. “I’m not sure if I ever told anyone. I actually woke up on a truck in the garage. All alone. I remember that, but I have no idea about the hours before that.
“Nobody asked ‘what’s with the coach?’ or anything. I woke up, climbed out of the truck and found myself in a big factory hall. Then I walked across the yard and saw the silhouette of a man. So I whistled because I can whistle quite loudly and I noticed the silhouette slowed down a little. So I waited and saw Aki Watzke (Hans-Joachim Watzke, Borussia Dortmund CEO). So Aki and I were the only people on this huge yard.”
Watzke takes up the story. “Jurgen was finished. He always partied the hardest of everyone.
“He said to me, ‘Aki, I have to get out of here. So I said, ‘Jurgen, let’s get out of here. Let’s try our luck. We’ll just keep walking until someone passes. But it wasn’t that easy because the city was closed off. But after ten minutes or so, a car passed so I jumped out onto the road.”
Klopp continues: “Aki held up an old Mercedes on the road. It was a Turkish fella in a station wagon. And Aki says ‘Take us to the Italian’. “No I won’t drive you there. So Aki reaches into his pocket, finds 200 euros and says ‘You will.’ He sees the money, “OK”.
“Aki sits in the front, I sit back. I kept slamming my head into the side, I was a little tired. And I kept hearing ‘cluck, cluck, cluck’ What’s going on here? I thought I dreamed it. But I didn’t. The trunk was full of chickens.”
Watzke confirmed: “There were chickens, that’s correct. But there were also three dead rams he had just slaughtered but he probably didn’t notice that. Both those rams spread a pervasive smell through the car.”
Klopp explained: “Then we had to drive through the road blocks. We went through the road blocks with Aki shouting out the window (people would say) “Oh Herr Watzke! Please pass. I don’t remember much more.”
The Liverpool boss reveals he learned his lesson for the next title win. “The second year went much better. I made sure I paced myself,” he adds.
The fascinating insight into the Bundesliga heavyweights may lack the drama of recent football docuseries such as Take Us Home - Leeds United or Netlfix’s Sunderland Till I Die - but it’s Access All Areas approach makes it compelling viewing.
The documentary follows Borussia Dortmund through the 2018/19 season which ultimately ended in disappointment, losing out on the title to Bayern Munich despite leading the competition for long periods.
Interspersed with the fly-on-the-wall footage are flashbacks to the club’s colourful past such as the Champions League triumph of 1997 and the brush with liquidation in the 2000s.
Klopp’s arrival signalled the start of a memorable few years for the club where he established himself as one of the European game’s best coaches before leaving in 2015. Klopp said of that 2011 team: “It was a group of wild dogs who went at anyone wearing different kit.
“It was a very fortunate combination of events. Getting a team like that for the little money the club paid at the time, they really won the lottery. That team was only a little worse at playing football than at partying.”
Klopp went on to win the league and cup double a season later and guided them to the Champions League Final in 2013 where they lost at Wembley to Bayern Munich.