J.Klopp is looking forward to getting his first taste of Paradise when he takes charge of James Milner’s squad for the forthcoming ‘Match For Cancer’ charity game on Saturday, September 8, against a Stiliyan Petrov select, managed by Celtic boss, Brendan Rodgers.
Celtic, of course, is a famous name in world football, and the Liverpool manager is well aware of Celtic Park’s reputation as one of the best arenas in the game. But with so many connections between Celtic and Liverpool, he’s already well-versed on how important the team is to its supporters, including a couple of his own players.
“Actually I cannot wait to come to Celtic Park,” the Liverpool boss told the official Celtic website. “Being someone who loves football and it’s traditions, it is very difficult to ignore a club like Celtic. It is a club, in quite an elite group I would say, where it doesn’t matter where you go in the world, there is always a very good chance you will see or meet someone who is either a Celtic fan directly or has an affiliation or a sense of belonging to the club.
“I have never been to a game at Celtic – doing a derby game is actually on my bucket list – but for now I think the experience of being involved with this game will be enough to at least see and feel what Celtic Park and the club is all about.
“Liverpool has so many close connections as club, not least at this moment that Brendan Rodgers is doing such a fantastic job as your manager. Kenny Dalglish likewise always tells me how special the connection is.
“I also have two members of my team at the moment who are always glued to the TV at our training ground when Celtic play, in Virgil van Dijk and Andy Robertson. Virgil is an ex-Celtic player, of course, but Robbo is just a massive, massive Celtic fan.
“So I get to hear lots about Celtic. In Robbo’s case, he talks constantly about it, even when you don’t ask, and all I hear is that it is a special club that has a lot of heart and soul. So I’m really looking forward to getting my own experience of this.”
The aim of the charity game at Celtic Park, sponsored by Dafabet and Laduma, is to raise money to help in the battle against cancer, with Celtic FC Foundation, the Stiliyan Petrov Foundation and the James Milner Foundation all benefiting from the event.
And Klopp is full of admiration for the players’ charitable efforts, particularly the way in which Petrov has used his own personal battle with leukaemia to help others in similar situations.
“I know that Stiliyan’s story and situation had a big impact on him and as a result his foundation is very supportive,” he said.
“Milly (James Miler) is not the most outgoing with the softer emotions, shall we say, but when you speak to his wife she will tell you how important Stiliyan is to him and what a big impact him being ill had on James.
“Stiliyan is not someone I know well on a personal level, but if you judge people by how others view them then he must be a very special person because I only hear positive things. It is inspirational that he has used a very difficult personal situation to benefit a very important cause – by which I mean raising money and awareness about the illness.
“I can’t imagine there is a person anywhere in the world who hasn’t been effected by cancer in some way, by either having an issue themselves, or a family member or a close friend impacted. So it is very easy to admire what these guys do and for me being able to help, even if it is just in a small way, is important.”
And Jurgen Klopp believes that the bonds between both Celtic and Liverpool can help make it a special day at Paradise.
“I have heard about this but I look forward to learning more,” he said. “I know both clubs thrive on really positive emotion. I know both clubs have You’ll Never Walk Alone as an anthem – so I can’t wait to hear that at Celtic Park.
“I think the passion, warmth and humour of our supporters is also something than brings us together. Celtic supporters are fantastic ambassadors for their club wherever they are on this planet, and this is certainly the case for Liverpool fans too.
“If you meet someone who is Celtic, they have great pride in identifying themselves as such and I love this. So I know some things but look forward to hearing and learning others when I finally get to visit.”