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Jurgen Klopp given hero’s welcome on return to former club in Liverpool break

Jurgen Klopp has used the international break to return to his native Germany, which included a visit to former club Mainz on Saturday.

Klopp was, at one stage, considering a sabbatical in 2024, but signing a new contract with Liverpool he delayed his plans until at least 2026.

It is clear, though, that his priorities have shifted of late, as whereas previously he would spend international breaks on warm-weather holidays, he now takes the opportunity to visit his new grandchild.

This means frequent trips back to Germany, where this month he also arranged a return to the club where he began his managerial career, Mainz.

Eleven years with Mainz as a player became seven more as manager, forging the reputation that earned his move to Dortmund in 2008 and then Liverpool seven years later.

His proudest feat at Mainz was earning promotion to the Bundesliga in 2003/04, and it is no surprise that he is considered a legendary figure at the club.

Saturday saw Klopp head to Mainz for their friendly against MSV Duisberg, greeting supporters from a stage outside the Bruchwegstadion before kickoff.

The friendly was organised as a farewell for fans to the Bruchwegstadion’s Sudtribune stand, which is due to be demolished next year.

Mainz moved from the Bruchwegstadion to their new Mewa Arena in 2011, having played at the stadium for 82 years prior to that – since then, it has still hosted youth games for the club.

The entirety of Klopp’s time at Mainz was spent playing at the Bruchwegstadion, of course, and therefore it was fitting that he paid what the club have described as a “flying visit” on a memorable day.

Klopp was greeted with chants of “Jurgen, Jurgen” by fans gathering near the stage ahead of the game, which saw Liverpool loanee Sepp van den Berg start.

He wore a shirt emblazoned with “Sudtribune, stufen voller geschichte”, which translates to “South Bank, steps full of history” in English.

During his time with Mainz, Klopp featured 340 times as a player, before managing 269 games in all competitions.

Only two players in the history of the club – Dimo Wache (406) and Nikolce Noveski (348) – have made more appearances than Klopp.

Klopp also scored more goals than all but three players in the club’s history, according to Transfermarkt.