Jurgen Klopp paid a fitting tribute to the late Diego Maradona on Wednesday evening, after the football legend’s sad passing at the age of 60.
It was confirmed on Wednesday that Maradona had passed away from a heart attack in his home in Argentina, following brain surgery earlier in November.
Widely regarded as one of the best footballers of all time, the uncatchable forward scored 34 goals in 91 games for his country, while representing Argentinos Juniors, Boca Juniors, Barcelona, Napoli, Sevilla and Newell’s Old Boys at club level.
His passing came as a shock to the football world, and speaking in the hours after, Klopp painted the picture of two characters, Diego and Maradona, saying he would miss them both.
“I had the honour of meeting him once. As a 53-year-old man, loving football as long as I can think, he was one of the greatest ever,” he recalled.
“I saw not too long ago the documentary, which I think is exceptional.
“You could see there was Diego, who was an unbelievable football player, and there was Maradona, who struggled slightly with all the things around.
“When you are a young person and the people go crazy wherever you go, that’s not so easy, and he had his fights with that, 100 percent.
“But I will miss Diego and Maradona, because he was just a wonderful footballer, unbelievable.”
It is without doubt Maradona struggled under the spotlight, but it is telling that he is instead remembered for his ability as a player – as Diego, who Liverpool and Atalanta honoured ahead of their Champions League clash at Anfield.
Klopp believes he inspired a generation of footballers, himself included, to push beyond their limits and the expectations of those around them.
“He showed all of us what could be possible, if we all fight with our limits as a football player. Is it technique? Is it endurance? Is it attitude? Whatever,” he continued.
“He just showed us that you don’t have to be the tallest, you maybe don’t have to be the most busy person in training, you don’t have to be always on time.
“It’s just possible that you can still be the best player in the world.
“He loved this game so much, you could see that in each second when you watched him playing – even his warming up was special.
“There was Pele, for Germany there was Beckenbauer, I don’t know exactly who it was for England, but we all had these absolute heroes, who made it look easy.
“It looks like there’s no effort necessary, but they trained a lot and they were just skilled, and they understood the game on a completely different level.
“That’s what Maradona did as well, he understood the game on a different level.
“He knew what other players would do before they knew what they would do. So that made him really special, and of course, he pushed football onto a different level.”