Jurgen Klopp couldn’t attend the Football Writer’s Association awards ceremony to congratulate Mo Salah on his Player of the Year award in person, so he wrote a speech instead.
A brilliant, remarkable speech.
Klopp, known for his eccentric character and wonderful eloquence even when not speaking in his native German, put together a stunning dictation that speaks not just to Salah’s play on the pitch, but more importantly to his manager, the Egyptian’s character off it. Klopp made note to highlight not just the prominence that Salah is bringing to minority races and religions, but also the grace and brilliance he provides the Premier League regardless of his denominators.
“There’s not much I can say about what he does ‘on the pitch’ that you guys haven’t already seen and written about,” Klopp wrote, and had read out by someone attending the ceremony. “The fact you have voted for him as your player of the season reflects that you have witnessed his incredible quality as a footballer. But it’s his qualities as a person that should not be overlooked. I read and hear about him being a wonderful role model for Egypt, North Africa, for the wider Arabic world and for Muslims. This, of course, is true, but he is a role model full stop.”
Klopp’s comments – almost surely unintentionally – mirror those released earlier in the day by NBA star Pau Gasol on Spurs female assistant coach Becky Hammon, who is notably interviewing for a head coaching position. Gasol made sure to point out that Hammon is not just a champion of women’s prominence in the sport, but that she’s a high quality coach in general, regardless of her gender.
The Reds boss then went on to highlight 17-year-old Liverpool academy product Rhian Brewster for his work earlier in the year bringing racism to the front page. He also threw some humor at his ability to pick a “second” favorite team for the 2018 World Cup in Russia behind his native Germany, but used that to wish England boss Gareth Southgate luck at the event.