It was shortly after he had captained South Africa to victory over England in the Rugby World Cup final that Siya Kolisi had his first encounter with Jurgen Klopp, someone he’s now lucky enough to call “a good friend.”
The story of their first meeting is a brilliant one, and listen to Kolisi for a few minutes and you can see exactly why he and the Liverpool boss have formed such a special bond.
An icon in his country, Kolisi is a hugely passionate individual who wears his heart on his sleeve, sharing the same values as Klopp. No real wonder, then, that he is such a fanatical Liverpool fan.
So what did he do when he happened to spot his hero walk into the bathroom at a restaurant in his home country? In an exclusive interview with This Is Anfield, Kolisi reveals all.
“I was in Cape Town in a restaurant,” he explains.
“We were just chilling there with some of my friends and my wife, and coach walked past our table. He went to the bathroom and I freaked out! My wife and friends didn’t understand why I was going crazy.
“I waited just outside the bathroom. I knew somebody that he knows, his name is Mike, he’s a German guy, and when coach came out I called Mike.
“I didn’t know what to say, I just gave him the phone, and then he started speaking to Mike and Mike explained who I am and everything, and coach was laughing.
“He said “I know who you are, we actually watched the World Cup final,” because obviously some of the English players were watching and supporting England.
“Then he came to my table with his wife and his friend, and we sat for like over an hour just chatting, and then he invited me to come (to Anfield) whenever.
“So I booked the flight a couple of days later and I went to Anfield, and it was just next level.”
Kolisi attended Liverpool’s Champions League clash against Napoli, and that meeting in Cape Town would turn out to be the first of many between him and Klopp.
Most recently, they filmed a ‘Klopp x Kolisi’ video campaign for Adidas, where their heartwarming relationship is clear for all to see.
Fitting, then, that they also happen to share a birthday, and have exchanged messages every year on that day since they first met.
Kolisi, who led South Africa to another victory against England at Twickenham last week, went on to reveal how he spent more quality time with Klopp and his wife after their recent Adidas shoot.
“We send each other birthday messages every year on June 16,” he continued.
“He’s a friend now, he’s a really good friend. I’m a big fan, but he treats me like a friend. He’s such a good human being, his wife is amazing too.
“We did the shoot together and it was so natural because of the friendship that we have, and then he welcomed us to his house. We chilled the whole night and we were just speaking about how he sees football, his mindset as a coach.
“The club was going through a difficult period at the time, and just speaking to him about that and learning a lot from him was amazing.”
So what did he make of Klopp’s skills with the rugby ball?
“He can kick it well, but the passing and everything, he has no skills at all!”
The pair spoke again before last season’s Champions League final, and Kolisi says he’s learned a lot from Klopp’s outlook on the game.
“I really do cherish him, and I learned a lot from him in the time that we spent at his house. How he sees life and sport in general, it’s really great,” Kolisi adds.
“That’s why the team plays for him. He cares for the human before anything else. And those hugs that he gives his players, it’s real, that’s the best thing about it, it’s so real. He’s a perfect guy for the team I think.”
* Watch our exclusive interview with Siya Kolisi in full here.