Liverpool midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum has spoken about his relationship with manager Jurgen Klopp and opened up on his unique team talk before the 2018 Champions League final.
The Reds were set to face reigning champions Real Madrid in the European decider in Kiev and to ease nerves ahead of the game Klopp decided to have some fun with his team.
“We saw he was wearing the boxer shorts of Cristiano Ronaldo,” Georginio Wijnaldum recalls in an interview on The Athletic.
“He did the meeting with his shirt stuffed inside his ‘CR7’ boxers. The whole changing room was on the floor laughing their heads off.
“That really broke the ice. Usually in those situations, everyone is serious and concentrated. But he was relaxed and made this joke.”
“He’s done hundreds of jokes likes that,” Wijnaldum continued.
“If you see that your manager is really confident and relaxed, it will have an effect on players. He is a father figure in those things for the players. With his jokes and his body language, he takes the pressure off players.”
Liverpool were unsuccessful on the night as Ronaldo and Real ran out winners but Wijnaldum’s anecdote is another example of the relationship Klopp has built with his players.
The German has assembled an extremely talented group over the last three and a half years at Anfield with the cumulation of Klopp’s work so far coming in their sixth European Cup victory in Madrid in June when they defeated Tottenham.
In the interview, Wijnaldum spoke candidly about his close personal relationship with the manager who brought him to Anfield from Newcastle.
Wijnaldum explained that he sees Klopp as a “really good friend” as well as his manager.
“When I have problems I can always go to the manager. I can text him a few days before and ask if he has a minute for me. He is always curious about what it is.
‘Is it something bad, good? What is it?’ He always tries to empathise with the other person, to feel what they’re going through.
“He is a really special man for me. I see him as more than a manager — a really good friend.”