Jurgen Klopp, the boss of Liverpool, was at cloud number 9 when the team went into the finals, of the Champions League in 2013. Klopp then sent a grateful message to Wolfgang Frank, his former coach and mentor, “Without you, I wouldn’t be here today, in London, at Wembley.” The silent knight of German football was a visionary ahead of his time and his legacy came to a fruitful horizon with Liverpool’s victory. He then passed away due to a malignant brain tumor.
However, as the game and the club’s reputation changes, Klopp might have to say goodbye to another old friend, Zeljko Buvac. He was one of the most loyal and dependable people for the boss and it looks like he is out of the picture, at least momentarily. Officially, Liverpool has suggested that this is because of ‘personal reasons’ but no one knows what the reason really is.
The 56-year-old Bosnian has been a “brother in spirit’ to Klopp for over 17 years now. The former Mainz teammate became his assistant, helping the novice new coach survive in German football and then win three trophies with Dortmund. They both have been together at Mainz and Dortmund before coming forth to Liverpool.
Both former teammates are known to be tacticians on the field, debating strategies and styles. Apart from this, nothing common existed to bind them together. In fact, Jan Doehling editor of ZDF, a Mainz-based broadcaster even revealed that the two made a pact- if anyone of them would become the coach first, their first job would be to bring the other one in.
If fate had it another way, then Buvac would have been the coach and Klopp the assistant, as the Bosnian was already managing the Borussia Neunkirchen. However, Doehling recalls that Buvac was the quiet, detail-oriented man while his partner was a salesman who would go on to sell the idea of a team. Former sporting director at Mainz, Christian Heidel hailed Klopp for bringing Buvac in as soon as he became coach.
He said that the decision to bring a strategist like him on the team wasn’t just instinctive, or the bound of a promise. It was a reason to believe that the new coach understood the bigger picture of football and knew who exactly could change it behind the scenes. Moreover, he was an older colleague with much more experience to share with the rookie coach.
The coach said, “He was my first choice, and he would have been my second and third choice, too. I think the biggest strength of strong people is to put people around you who are stronger in specific areas than yourself.”
It is important to understand how the rebirth of German football was revolving around three names from Mainz- Frank, Buvac and Klopp. Their management, their strategies and their unique perspective on the game, help recreate a team from scratch and drive them to dominance in Europe. Everything, from their aggressive style to high-speed chases, came through the vision of Frank, the execution of Buvac and the management of Klopp.