In 2023, Jurgen Klopp is Liverpool manager and Jorg Schmadtke is sporting director. But in 1992, they were opposition players for Mainz and Fortuna Dusseldorf respectively.
Currently, the pair are pushing the same train as they look to make the summer transfer window a successful one for the Reds after a disappointing season.
They have not always been on the same side, though, despite Klopp’s best efforts during a trial at Fortuna back in the late 1980s, where Schmadtke occupied the No. 1 position.
“I was just 19 years old, a young lad – thin bones, long hair,” Klopp recalled with WAZ earlier this year. “Jorg was in goal. He was a really big name at Fortuna at the time.
“What can I say? I was a total bust. Jorg has probably noticed that to this day. In all his jobs he never made me an offer to become a coach.”
How the tables have turned.
Less than six years after that trial, Klopp was a centre-back at Mainz and Schmadtke was in his final season with Fortuna – and they faced off against one another in 2. Bundesliga.
It was July 26, 1992, and Klopp’s Mainz were the visitors in the only clash where the two met on the pitch as members of the opposition – despite a combined 27-year playing career in Germany.
And it was the Liverpool manager who left with bragging rights in a 2-1 victory, although he was withdrawn from proceedings in the 79th minute, just three minutes before his team scored the winner.
At that time, Klopp was still playing in attack, his move to defence did not come until the mid-1990s and he was self-deprecating about his talent, once saying: “I had fourth-division feet and a first-division head.”
Meanwhile, although a goalkeeper by trade, Schmadtke was known for his eccentricity and his skill with the ball at his feet, so much so that he was given a chance to be a striker in 1996.
From meeting during Klopp’s trial in the 1980s to playing against one another in the 1990s, it is apt they now work together in the 2020s after both reinventing themselves off the field.