Liverpool chief Jurgen Klopp has reflected on 2021 in a powerful open letter to fans.
The Kop boss, as he wished fans a happy and peaceful Christmas, took time to praise the ongoing work and commitment of key workers amid the ongoing Covid pandemic, paid tribute to Andrew Stanley Devine, the 97th supporter to die as a result of Hillsborough and discussed the accomplishments of his Liverpool side in 2021.
In the lengthy letter, posted on Liverpool’s official website, Klopp spoke about:
NHS workers being the real heroes of 2021 as they continue to fight against the coronavirus pandemic
How “always in life, together stronger.”
“One of his proudest moments” as a manager
Fans’ return to Anfield is the “absolute highlight” of his year
Klopp, who has also been outspoken over vaccinations recently amid the current Omicron wave, also made clear that in the battle against coronavirus : “We’re stronger if we face it together.”
Here’s everything the Liverpool manager had to say…
Jurgen Klopp’s Christmas day message in full
“As always, I want to wish Liverpool supporters around the world a very happy and peaceful Christmas – and I hope that wherever in the world you are reading these words, you and your loved ones are safe and healthy,”
“One year ago when I wrote this letter, I spoke about the impact the pandemic had on all of our lives, both as professionals but more importantly as human beings. Twelve months later, it continues to have a huge effect on us all, but we should also recognise that lots of positive steps have been taken in 2021 towards what we hope will be a brighter future for everyone.
“Again, this last year has taught us the greatest lesson possible about the things that matter most in life and how important it is to be grateful for them.
“As I write today, we are again gripped by the latest ‘wave’ of the pandemic and nobody can predict what will happen in the coming weeks, months or even days, but one thing is clear for me – we’re stronger if we face it together.
“I have gone on record many times about my respect, admiration and gratitude for the frontline workers here in the UK and all over the world who have put us first before their own health and safety.
“These guys are the real heroes and even though we are now into the 21st month of the pandemic, we must never forget what they have done – and what they continue to do – for you, me and everybody else.
“Unfortunately, it is a fact there will be some reading these words who have lost someone due to the pandemic in the last year. Whether you are part of the Liverpool family or a supporter or another club – or even if you’re not a football follower – you are in our thoughts and prayers.
“Of course, today and every day our thoughts are with the families and friends of those who lost their lives at Hillsborough and the survivors. You are our daily inspiration because of the courage, strength and resilience you have shown.
“Sadly, during 2021 we lost Andrew Stanley Devine who became the 97th supporter to die as a result of Hillsborough. As I mentioned at the time when he passed away, I did not know him well but I had the absolute privilege of meeting him on a few occasions when he came to Melwood for a visit and to Anfield for games.
“Andrew definitely made a lasting impact upon us for his incredible courage and fight.
“It was an honour for me to spend some time with him and he, his family and his friends are in my thoughts today, 100 per cent.
“Unfortunately, some other members of the Liverpool FC family have also left us during the last year and our thoughts are with the family and friends of Ian St John, Roger Hunt, Ray Kennedy, Louis Bimpson, Tommy Leishman and Phil Chisnall, as well as Gerry Marsden.
“As a group of players and staff, we also had our own personal difficult moments away from football. Some of them you may know, others you will not, but in these tough times we showed what a close group we are.
“As always in life, together stronger.
“I see that in the work that’s done via the LFC Foundation, Red Neighbours and the various programmes to help the local community around Liverpool. I see it in the unbelievable work Fans Supporting Foodbanks does – wow, my respect for what you guys do is the highest it could possibly be.
“Similarly, I would like to have a word on Alder Hey. Sadly, for the second year running we could not visit, but again we were able to try to bring some joy to some poorly children via video calls. I send a big hug and all my love to the patients and their families, as well as the world-class staff who work there.”
“On the pitch, it is true there were parts of 2021 that were very difficult for football reasons, particularly in the first few months of the year.
“We had more than our fair share of long-term injuries and we struggled for consistency and form.
“But I have to say once again, the way the boys pulled it together and went 10 games unbeaten to take us back into the Champions League remains one of my absolute proudest moments as a manager.
“There is a photo stuck in my mind of the final day of last season. It was taken after the game and we had 10,000 supporters back at Anfield. It shows Nat Phillips and Rhys Williams applauding the fans in front of the Kop, both of them with bruises and cuts to their faces.
“For me, that image captured best what those boys achieved. We showed a real Liverpool spirit and, honestly, I could not be any more proud.
“Of course, this season, the boys are flying once again and showing everybody why I am the luckiest man in the world to be able to call myself their manager. Working with them every day is a pleasure.
“The same goes for the staff here at the AXA Training Centre. Really, the commitment and sacrifices they make to try to do their absolute maximum for Liverpool FC is absolutely remarkable. They all work together, each contributing in their own areas, with one common goal: to make us the best we can be. I love it.
“I’d also like to say thanks and show appreciation for the many other LFC staff who work so hard each and every day for this club across the different sites. The success of the team isn’t just about what happens in Kirkby, you make a contribution towards it too. Thank you from us all.
“And lastly, my thanks goes to our incredible supporters. Having you back inside a full Anfield is without any question the absolute highlight of my year,” said Klopp.
“After the game with Leicester the other night, I gave an interview in which I said how much I loved being a part of this incredible club because of how special it is, because of how much we all mean to each other. Really, I meant every word – and perhaps if I was a native English speaker, I could have said it better.
“But one of the main reasons that makes this club so special, so different, is you. We saw the impact of not having you inside Anfield or with us at away games or in Europe and we felt it. Believe me, we all felt it.
“Wednesday night’s game was the perfect example of the power of Anfield, why it must be a place every opponent hates to play. Without your support, the boys’ comeback would have been much more difficult. But we did it and we did it together.
“As I mentioned earlier, nobody knows what the immediate future will bring, but I can promise you that we never have, and never will, take having a full Anfield for granted.
“From the bottom of my heart and all of my players and staff, thank you for your commitment, sacrifice, support, love and patience over the last 12 months.
“I am excited about what the next 12 months will hold for us as a collective and with you behind this group of players. I have complete confidence we will have many memorable occasions and more success together.
“Each and every day I get to look these boys in the eyes, I get to see their talent and desire in training. I know they have absolute fire inside them to create more special memories with you.
“I’d like to finish off where I started. We are living in historical times because of this pandemic and I am sure many of you reading this are in a similar position to me in that the events of the last nearly two years have made absolutely clear what is really important in life.
“Recently, I saw a remarkable video from the club regarding a young man named Ethan, who donated bone marrow to help save the life of a girl named Libbie. Really, if you have not seen this video, watch it now. I am not ashamed to say it made me emotional.
“But the reason I mention this is because it showed what we can achieve together. How being there for someone else can be the most important thing you ever do.
“So today, my team talk for you is this: show those you love and care about what they mean to you, enjoy your time with them because it’s precious, reach out to those who you can’t be with in person using the technology we have and take a moment to remember those who’ve sadly left us.
“However you choose to mark today, however you choose to celebrate, I wish you and your families health, happiness, peace and love.
“All my love, Jürgen.”