Neil Humphreys: Why we need winning Reds
Even as they aim to build a dynasty, Klopp's Liverpool still retain a human touch
On the eve of the biggest final of his career, Juergen Klopp stepped out of the Champions League bubble and recorded a personal message for Dave Evans.
Evans has terminal cancer.
The lifelong Liverpool fan had only one ambition, to live long enough to see his club win a sixth European crown.
Klopp understood. He always does. His empathy isn't faked, or manipulated to serve a corporate brand. He has never forgotten who his real paymasters are.
His message, like his coaching style, was genuine and sincere.
His job is to give fans moments to remember. We share those moments, he said, understanding that football must remain a communal experience.
There is no "us and them", only us. It's a belief that defines Liverpool's dressing room as much as it does their relationship with the game itself.
It's why the Reds are the worthiest of Champions League winners and why Klopp's farewell to Evans was so devastating.
"I'm Christian. So, see you."
Those last two words epitomise the greatest manager of his generation. Klopp sees you, all of you, the supporters, inside the stadium, at home on sofas, on the MRT after a sleep-deprived night, still wearing those sweaty Liverpool jerseys.
He sees beyond the crass commerce and bridges the rich-poor chasm between the multi-millionaires within the game and the frequently neglected punters who keep it afloat.
Whereas Pep Guardiola can feel as if he's one clinical team-sheet away from wearing a lab coat, Klopp is a throwback to the fist-pumping, rabble-rousers of Bill Shankly and Bob Paisley.
He doesn't incite the crowd. He's in the crowd. He's a part of it.
At a time when football mirrors the grubbiest aspects of elitist capitalism, Klopp has effectively absorbed the socialist principles of working-class Liverpudlians and applied them to a club where everyone matters.
Everyone contributes. Equality rules. Egos are out.
Just look at the skipper. Jordan Henderson was always leaving the club, according to his critics. He wasn't fast enough. He wasn't cultured enough. He wasn't Steven Gerrard enough.
But Klopp has carved out a midfield colossus, a Champions League-winning captain who ran to his father and broke down.
Henderson's dad has battled throat cancer, but they had focused only on the football, the collective cause, the Liverpool way.
Their unrestrained joy stripped away any cynicism, leaving behind just a father and a son, crying over a football match.
We've all been there.
And that's Liverpool's most profound achievement. Despite their billion-dollar investment, it's never felt like a business.
It's always been personal, in an intimate sense.
After four previous seasons without a trophy, Klopp never feared the sack.
The Bostonian owners understood the importance of the qualities that made Liverpool, well, Liverpool - patience, trust and that spiritual umbilical cord with the community, especially after Hillsborough.
Along the way, Klopp nurtured a harmonious dressing room to rival any from the hallowed boot room era.
Divock Origi waits in vain for a regular starting place, but hasn't complained once.
His reward was the decisive second goal and a place in Anfield folklore.
Two years ago, James Milner played as if pulling a tractor.
In the final, he came on and pushed the flagging Reds to victory.
During the celebrations, Xherdan Shaqiri, Simon Mignolet and Daniel Sturridge partied as if they had played every minute, rather than sweated on the bench. No one feels left behind at Liverpool.
At Manchester United, Paul Pogba seems to be leaving the club twice a month, but that isn't the Liverpool way, not any more.
The Reds were once considered pretty, but soft.
Their weak underbellies were hidden beneath cream-coloured suits. They wallowed in their martyrdom of Gerrard slips and lame excuses.
Now they win. They just win.
Mohamed Salah could have lost himself in a season of dark contemplation after going off injured in last year's final, but he roared back with the opening goal. Self-pity isn't accepted any more, only self-sacrifice.
Liverpool are all about that collective cause now, the one between the owners, coaching staff, players and the millions of Reds who came together for a breathtaking show of unified strength that encapsulated their anthem.
No one walks alone at Liverpool. It's more than a song.
It's a mission statement now for a fledgling dynasty intent on doing things differently.
English football has always craved a competitive Liverpool to play yin to Manchester's yang. Even the most popular protagonists want decent antagonists.
But the sport itself should cherish the return of the continental kings. The Reds are the right club at the right time, with an uplifting, inclusive ethos from top to bottom.
Klopp gave Dave Evans, Henderson's father and every Red the result they wanted.
And Liverpool gave us the European champions we desperately needed.
MOST EUROPEAN CUPS
1. Real Madrid - 13
2. AC Milan - 7
3. Liverpool - 6
4. Barcelona - 5
5. Bayern Munich - 5