Liverpool's Joel Matip (centre) celebrates scoring his side's first goal of the game with team-mates during the Premier League match at Anfield, Liverpool. (Anthony Devlin/PA Wire/PA Images)

Joel Matip full of respect for Jurgen Klopp carrying Liverpool’s heavy burden to title triumph

Joel Matip has opened up on the “relief” of winning the Premier League title as he lauded Jurgen Klopp for protecting the squad against the weight of expectation.

In his first press conference as Reds manager in 2015, Klopp was quick to stress that “history is the base for us. It’s not allowed to take the history in the backpack.”

At that time, the backpack was weighed down by 25 years without a league title but, true to his word, the German would turn a page and write a new chapter for his Liverpool team.

A Champions League title, Super Cup title and Club World Cup title were added before the Premier League trophy was finally joined them in the trophy cabinet with just 31 games on the board this season.

A remarkable campaign with unforeseen twists and turns due to the coronavirus ensured Liverpool’s title coronation was delayed but once Chelsea toppled Man City on June 25, the 19th league title was Liverpool’s and the burden of the past immediately dissipated.

But for the players, it was never a load too heavy to carry as Klopp shouldered the weight, to which Matip was quick to shine a light on when speaking to German outlet Die Welt.

“I can imagine how liberating [winning the title] was for him too. Everyone can imagine how exhausting so much pressure is for the body and the mind. That is not always easy. He carries a heavy load and protects us from this load from the outside,” Matip explained.

STOKE-ON-TRENT, ENGLAND - Saturday, April 8, 2017: Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp celebrates with Joel Matip after the 2-1 victory over Stoke City during the FA Premier League match at the Bet365 Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

“Internally, he discusses things very clearly, but as I said, he protects us from the outside. We know that. As a player, you like to jump into the breach for such a coach.

“He is known for always making a casual statement. But when it comes to work and the team, he is very clear.

“He has his ideas and always tries to get them into the mind of every player. He always tells us how important the team is and how important it is that we stick together. He knows that we have quality, but that we can only achieve something if we pull together.

“He has an incredibly good way of motivating us and arousing the emotions within us.”

As for the emotions of Liverpool’s No. 32 when watching the events unfold at Stamford Bridge alongside his teammates, it was simply “emotional” and a feeling different to that of the Reds’ European Cup success the year before.

“It was like that [greater joy]. But that has to do with the club, which had to wait 30 years for it,” he continued. “In addition, each club ticks differently. At Manchester City, the Champions League may count a little more.

“So it was emotional, a very moving moment. I think I’ll remember that all my life. We were all extremely happy.

LONDON, ENGLAND - Sunday, August 4, 2019: Liverpool's Joel Matip celebrates scoring the first equalising goal with team-mate Virgil van Dijk during the FA Community Shield match between Manchester City FC and Liverpool FC at Wembley Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

“It was a relief. Because of the coronavirus we had come to a standstill, nothing was happening.

“Nobody knew at the beginning whether we would really finish the season and whether we could achieve the goal we had in mind.

“It was a difficult time for everyone in the world after the lockdown – and it is still difficult. It’s so different.”

While scenes of celebration quickly emerged from Formby Hall, there was to be very limited dancing for Matip due to a foot injury picked up in the first game of the restart.

“No, no,” he said when asked about his dancing. “I only jumped once, more really wasn’t possible because of my injury. Others have put a lot more effort into it. [Klopp?], oh yes, he danced nicely.”

Matip largely remains a figure to work quietly behind the scenes and to hear him speak of the emotions of the title triumph and his high praise for Klopp is heartening.