Jurgen Klopp felt Christmas had come early the first time he took charge of a professional football team.
The highly regarded Liverpool boss will experience the Premier League’s hectic festive fixture schedule for the first time this season, starting with the Anfield clash against surprise leaders Leicester City on Boxing Day.
But Klopp relishes all the challenges he tackles from the dugout and would have happily cut short a playing career that failed to win similar acclaim in order to take up coaching sooner.
“I had no money, not the best future, but I loved the game too much,” Klopp, who spent 11 years as a player largely in 2.Bundesliga with Mainz, told Liverpool’s official website.
“I was not so good in the technical parts of the game and I hated myself for this. I had big fights with myself and bad, bad words for myself in many situations of the game.
“I loved the game and I always tried to understand it a little bit better than the rest of the team because it was the only way to stay in the game.
“I always had this dream to become a football manager. If someone had come along and told me, at 25, to stop playing football and become a manager, it would not have been a problem for me.
“But it didn’t happen. I had to wait until I was 33.”
After seven years in charge of Mainz, Klopp won back-to-back Bundesliga titles with Borussia Dortmund and led them to the Champions League final.
The 48-year-old suggested he intended to take a longer break from the game when he left Dortmund at the end of last season, but the lure of another managerial challenge proved too great.
“When I finally left Dortmund I tried to take a break, a real break” the German added. “The first four months were a holiday. Then came another big club.”