Juergen Klopp finally has another trophy.
After losing his last six cup finals, a streak the charismatic manager put down to bad luck, luck was on his side on Saturday as he led Liverpool to Champions League glory.
Liverpool beat Tottenham 2-0 in an ordinary final, but Klopp could shrug off those who doubted he could deliver. Even though he’d previously said he was not worried about his poor record in finals.
Klopp won the Champions League at his third attempt after back-to-back finals, and delivered Liverpool its sixth European Cup, and first trophy on his watch.
“Usually I sit here and have to explain how you can lose this game. Now, I can enjoy it,” Klopp said. “For us it is really important that now people don’t ask about winning or not winning things.
“I’m so happy for the players and my family. There will be a moment when I’m completely overwhelmed for myself, too. I feel mostly relief, relief for my family. The last six times we flew on holiday with only a silver medal it didn’t feel too cool.”
His very first trophy was in 2012, the German Cup with Borussia Dortmund, and he has appeared in finals almost annually since then. But he missed out on two more German Cups, an English League Cup, a Europa League, and two Champions Leagues.
But he’s finally claimed the most coveted prize in European club soccer.
“It is the best night of our professional lives,” he said. “It took a while, it is important for our development and improvement. Now we can carry on.
“The owners never put pressure on us. Normally 20 minutes after the game I am half drunk, but now I have only had water!”
The 51-year-old Klopp has excelled at inspiring a furious, all-out-attacking mentality at Liverpool that he brought with him from Dortmund. But this final was far from the “heavy metal” pressuring style Klopp likes.
Even so, Klopp, dressed in a dark tracksuit and baseball cap, still shouted and punched his fist in the air to make sure his players didn’t have a last-second slip, and finished the job.
Before the second goal by Divock Origi that decided the result, he spent most of the match pacing his manager’s box, sometimes shaking his head and crossing his arms as if disappointed his players had not gone for the kill after Mohamed Salah’s second-minute penalty.
At fulltime, he was calm. He was a champion again.
Tottenham’s Pochettino comes away empty handed again
Mauricio Pochettino may continue to be praised for his managerial style, but not yet for his titles.
Pochettino failed to win his first title as a coach on Saturday after Tottenham lost 2-0 to Liverpool in the Champions League final.
The coach credited with turning Tottenham around with his high-pressing, attacking style has gone another season without being able to lift a trophy.
As Liverpool players celebrated with the cup at midfield, Pochettino removed the second-place medal from around his neck and hurried into the changing rooms.
He stayed by the sideline for a moment after the final whistle, then embraced his assistants before going to the field to console his players and congratulate his Liverpool opponents.
“It’s so painful,” Pochettino said. “But at the same time, we need to be proud. It’s a fantastic thing to play in the final for the first time in the history of the club.”
The 47-year-old Pochettino succeeded in his task of the changing Tottenham’s mentality after arriving at the club five years ago, turning it into a perennial contender in English soccer and leading it to a remarkable run to the Champions League final.
His only other final as a coach was the English Cup final in his debut campaign with Tottenham in 2014, which he lost to Chelsea.
The club was in the title race in the Premier League the following season, eventually finishing in third place. Tottenham did even better in 2015-16, finishing runner-up, and again it was third in 2017-18.
Despite not being able to sign any players in the last two transfer windows, he led the club to another top top-four finish in the Premier League this season.
Pochettino began his coaching career with Spanish club Espanyol in 2009, helping save the team he used to play for from relegation in his first season. He left the club three years later after gaining praise for implementing his attacking style.
He joined Southampton in January 2013, and in his first full season he led the English club to an eighth-place finish, its highest league position in a decade.
That campaign helped him land the five-year deal with Tottenham, which before he arrived had only reached four second-tier European finals, most recently winning the now-defunct UEFA Cup.
“Hopefully this is the beginning of a successful period for this club,” Pochettino said.