Borussia Dortmund failed in an approach to rehire Jurgen Klopp in 2018, with the Liverpool manager committed to “fulfilling his contract” on Merseyside.
Klopp joined the Reds in 2015 after seven successful years at Dortmund, going out on his own terms at the Westfalenstadion and receiving an emotional farewell.
His former club have experienced mixed fortunes since his departure, with two second-placed finishes—including in the campaign immediately following his exit—along with third in 2016/17 and fourth in 2017/18.
With Dortmund parting ways with Peter Stoger at the end of that season, chief executive Hans-Joachim Watzke made a call to Klopp, who tasted defeat in the Champions League final that summer.
In Watzke’s new book Real Love: A life with BVB, he and Klopp recount the story of this approach—with the Reds manager’s take typical of his humour.
“At some point my phone rang while I was on the plane and Aki was on it: ‘Jurgen, you have to come back’,” he recalled.
“I laughed, I thought he was kidding.
“‘Are you stupid, have you been drinking? How do you get that idea, I have a few more years in Liverpool’.
“I do not know how serious he was at that moment, but I realised that he wanted me to be more willing to respond.”
Klopp still has three years left on his current contract with Liverpool, and the club are hoping to convince the German to extend his stay at Anfield beyond his usual seven-year stint.
Watzke’s call was knowingly hopeless, with the 60-year-old aware Klopp would stay with the Reds, such is his loyalty and integrity, and the strong position he is in.
“I knew that Jurgen would say no and that he would fulfil his contract in Liverpool,” he explained.
“But if you want to go in a new direction, and we had to hit a new path at BVB at that point, then I had to at least ask Jurgen if it was a possibility.
“I did not expect it at all, but I would never have forgiven myself had I not at least asked him at that moment.”
Klopp, however, has not ruled out a return in the future “as a rescuer at a time of need,” perhaps in the same vein as Kenny Dalglish at Liverpool in 2011—but he deems it unlikely.