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Jurgen Klopp manager of Liverpool walks his "Guard of Honour" at the end the Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Wolverhampton Wanderers at Anfield on May 19, 2024 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by John Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images)

Jurgen Klopp’s farewell showcased his superpower – it became a celebration

It was the game of football that marked Jurgen Klopp‘s Liverpool leaving do, so emotions were always going to be unavoidably high, but what we had was a celebration rather than a wake.

Rather than there being not a dry eye in the house, it was smiles and a feel-good factor all round.

As games of football go, it wasn’t a fitting one to end on. Premier League title hopes spiked a few weeks back and no trip to Dublin or Wembley to round things off within the days ahead.

Wolves offered little in the way of a mad last-day bunfight, opponents that were blunted as soon as Nelson Semedo opted to end his own 2023/24 campaign 62 minutes before it was entirely necessary when VAR upgraded his yellow card for a red.

I mean, Jurgen’s players didn’t even have the decency to concede the first goal of the game to make it a bit of a challenge, to add the spice of a sense of peril to proceedings.

 

A reminder of who we are

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, May 18, 2024: Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp after the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Wolverhampton Wanderers FC at Anfield. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Sunday afternoon could have been a bit deflating really, given the circumstances that have surrounded how our season petered out during the run-in, but there wasn’t an ounce of it.

This felt like a special day from word go, and there was a spring in the step of everyone outside the ground.

A throng of supporters that seemed to be far in excess of the usual matchday human traffic, many of whom were drawn to Anfield to soak in the positive vibes and to pay homage to our outgoing manager, whether they were lucky enough to have a ticket in their pocket to do that inside Anfield, or to do it in the surrounding pubs instead.

For many, it was a you just had to be there kind of day.

In the stands, it was a jukebox of sorts, with songs sung in honour not only of Klopp but of the teams he had put together over his years at Anfield.

Contemporary heroes were serenaded, past contributors were lauded, this was a day to honour all those who had been involved in what has been a magnificent, if not always smooth, journey across these last nine years.

For not one moment has it ever been boring during the Klopp era, and of all the banners, the eulogies, the dedications, the video montages, the one that hit the nail on the head for me the most was that he reminded us of who we are, of what we’re capable of.

Uncomfortable with the solo spotlight to the very last, Klopp used his farewell microphone to push the mantra of it all being about the collective rather than the individual, that we did it together – and that forever he will be part of our gang. One of us.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, May 18, 2024: Liverpool supporters' banner "Jürgen Lives Forever" mimicing a banner about Bill Shankly during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Wolverhampton Wanderers FC at Anfield. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

A collective always needs that initial lone voice to lift itself though, that special someone to pick up the pieces and pull us out of the rut we periodically land ourselves in.

Often these personalities, these pivotal influences, downplay the part they play in the improving landscapes they find themselves in. Sometimes they don’t truly realise the size of the impact they have made.

It’s all about inspiring people. Some can do it without knowing what they’ve done, or if they do know it, they opt to deflect the praise and the limelight.

We are sad to see Klopp head to the horizon because his infectious nature travelled far further than the trophies he won. He arrived as his own man; he leaves as one of us.

 

The power of the collective

At Anfield, 24 hours before the game, around 80 or so of us worked hard to put that mosaic together, all 23,500 cards: red, white, black, yellow.

A collective that came together, some of us old hands at these things, many others who were taking part for the first time – people who were kind enough to put a few Saturday hours aside without payment to make something special happen.

Wonderful randoms or familiar faces, each one making a difference.

It was another example of what makes us who we are when we pull together, but it still took the vision of that initial point of inspiration that sprang from the mind of the individual.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, May 18, 2024: Liverpool supporters' mural on the Kop before the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Wolverhampton Wanderers FC at Anfield. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

This time it was my best mate, Andrew Knott, a man who has never made a single penny from what we have counted up to be at least 60 such mosaics across the last 25 years or so now.

On the touchline, on the pitch, in the stands, and behind the scenes at Anfield, countless individuals help to inspire the collective.

You can’t have a collective without inspirational individuals who dream up big ideas, which the collective then offer their support and energy to in order to turn those dreams and big ideas into a glorious reality.

The rewards and payoffs are the joy, the friendships and memories created. I couldn’t imagine being associated to anything other than us. I pity others, even those with a larger cache of shiny silverware that they don’t have something similar. What we have is truly unique.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, May 18, 2024: Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp after the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Wolverhampton Wanderers FC at Anfield. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

On Sunday, Klopp embraced his leaving do in exactly the right way. He felt the warmth, he savoured the moment, and then he pointed toward the future, whatever might lay there.

In starting that chant for Arne Slot, he was basically telling us to judge his successor on who he is, not on who he isn’t.

A new chapter beckons and Klopp will be as invested in what happens next as we are.

All praise the individual, but up the Red collective.