Former Borussia Dortmund manager Jurgen Klopp was asked about his emotions in the aftermath of the bomb that struck the German club’s team bus on Tuesday.
Speaking at the prematch press conference ahead of Liverpool’s away game at West Brom on Sunday, Klopp said he feared for his former players and club at first, but was “proud” of their reaction and ability to play on such a tight turnaround from a traumatic event.
Klopp said he was initially informed of the attack by Liverpool press officer Matt McCann, but had to wait like everyone else to hear any more information about it. “I tried immediately to get information,” Klopp said. “It was strange and I was really concerned and I was scared for them. Then how it was for everybody, in the first moment it looked like a little bit of relief, not too serious, then the more information you could get, the more serious it got and that was really difficult.
“Of course, I had contact with a few people but I didn’t want to bother them with my silly questions that I had, so I was waiting like all the rest for more information in the media. I tried to watch everything I could watch, I tried to get the information I could get. The last thing I thought about in this moment was the game, actually.”
Klopp then expressed his pride towards his former club and the team’s ability to regroup and play a competitive game just 24 hours later. “I saw the game and I was really proud of Borussia Dortmund, how they handled it, how they created this atmosphere. Again, the game was not too important but when they played the game they tried to be at their best.”
The Liverpool manager said of course Dortmund would wish to take time before playing again, but also understood UEFA’s point of view in rescheduling the game the following day, a decision which has come under fire the past few days. “I can 100 percent understand both sides,” Klopp said. “It was difficult, first of all, to find another date in this really tight schedule because when would you want to play the game? But of course, I think they would understand if you say: ‘OK, we don’t play it, we find a solution next week.”
“I heard the interviews after the game and I saw the faces of my former players and saw the shock in their eyes and that was really hard, so I forgot the game again immediately. I only thought about them.”
Dortmund player Nuri Sahin was asked after the game how difficult it was to turn around and play the day after their lives were targeted, and his comments were striking, saying they hardly thought about the game until it kicked off.
“I don’t know if the people can understand this, but until I was on the pitch in the second half I did not think about football to be honest,” Sahin said of his entrance into the game as a second-half substitute. “Last night I didn’t realize what happened until I got through the door and my wife and son were waiting, there I felt how lucky we were. I know football is very important, we love football, we suffer with football, we love football. I know we earn a lot of money, we have a privileged life, but we are human beings, and there is so much more than football in this world, and last night we felt it.”
Dortmund manager Thomas Tuchel, Klopp’s successor, was critical of UEFA’s decision to schedule the match so soon after the attack, saying the governing body acted as if “a beer can was thrown at our bus.”