EXCLUSIVE: Jose Enrique reveals Klopp was one of two men he revered at Liverpool

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EXCLUSIVE: Jose Enrique reveals Klopp was one of two men he revered at Liverpool

Jurgen Klopp managed Jose Enrique during the 2015/16 season
Jurgen Klopp managed Jose Enrique during the 2015/16 seasonAFP
With Joe Kinnear having recently passed away and Jurgen Klopp leaving the Premier League in a few months, we find ourselves talking to perhaps the only player to have trained under both men. His name is Jose Enrique (38), and according to the former Newcastle and Liverpool player, the two managers were both influential in his career, albeit for different reasons.

"You might as well compare me to Roberto Carlos, but you know what, I have a lot of respect for Kinnear. He was a great guy to me, but you can't compare the two", the Spaniard tells Tribal Football from his office with a Liverpool shirt hanging in the background.

Jurgen Klopp arrived at Anfield in what turned out to be Jose Enrique's final season at Liverpool and there's no doubt he'd have liked to have spent many more years under the guidance of the German.

"I've never been one to be easily impressed by meeting big and famous personalities and probably only two people have left me in awe. One was Steven Gerrard and the other was Klopp. As you saw him, that big smile all the time, and his persona, he's a big guy, you know," Enrique says thinking back to the days in October 2015 when Klopp took over from Brendan Rodgers.

"I remember when he did his first press conference, saying how he wants to win the Premier League for the club. I'd heard this talk before and it's just bull***t, you know, but coming from him it was different and not just for me. It was all the players at the club. He has something in his persona when he talks that is different to what I've seen."

Best in the world

"For me, he's the best manager in the world and I don't say that because I played under him. Pep Guardiola is also a genius as well as Ancelotti but compared to those big clubs, Klopp has never had that kind of budget and has still delivered.

"He's been in competition with probably one of the best clubs, if not the best team ever in the Premier League, and he's been able to compete and even win trophies. It's just unbelievable how much he's changed the club," Enrique says of the manager who had his work cut out when he first took the job. 

"He didn't change much at the beginning, he's not Harry Potter, but he changed the mentality of the club. You know, in my time just getting to the top four was an achievement, but not to him. He wanted to win the Premier League and he put that mentality into the players and into the fans as well.

"He made them believe that it was possible so he's just a genius. I really believe he's one of a kind. I can't even begin to imagine what would have happened if Klopp would have been backed by FSG properly. I think he'd have at least three more major trophies. Without a doubt," says Enrique who is nervous of what is going to happen at Liverpool post-Klopp.

Liverpool's current position in the Premier League
Liverpool's current position in the Premier LeagueFlashscore

"I think it's a change of era, like Ferguson leaving Manchester United, just like it will be when Pep Guardiola leaves Manchester City and someone else comes in. The only one I think could have brought something similar to Klopp right from the start is Xabi Alonso."

No going back

"He's having a fantastic season and he would have brought that confidence with him. He's already been at the club, the fans love him, so you'd have had the connection and respect from the players right away. I hope I am wrong, but I think it's going to be a very tough time for Liverpool," a worried Enrique adds.

With Michael Edwards returning to Liverpool, it got some people wondering whether Klopp might backtrack on his departure plans, but Enrique dismisses this thought.

"Klopp is not the kind of guy that comes out with something like that without having given it a lot of thought. If Klopp wanted to stay, he would have stayed, and he wouldn't have said that. I think he's given that a proper thought.

"Obviously, I don't know him incredibly well, but I am 99.9 % sure that he's going to take a year off. This is not just his decision; I think it's a family-related decision. So, I think it's a no-going-back decision. But I hope I'm very, very wrong!"

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