It is fair to say that Jose Mourinho’s coaching exploits have eclipsed whatever he was able to achieve on the pitch during his playing career, but a curious Jurgen Klopp clearly wants to learn more about his rival manager.
Klopp’s all-conquering Liverpool team travel to Mourinho’s Tottenham on Saturday and while Liverpool’s army of scouts will have run the rule over what awaits them at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, the one figure that Klopp admits that they may have overlooked is the man standing in the opposition dugout.
Of course, Mourinho’s managerial CV is almost without equal in the modern game. He has won league titles in every country he has managed, as well as a pair of Champions Leagues, but it isn’t Mourinho’s tactical nous which Klopp appears concerned with – it is more about what the Portuguese achieved during his time as a player.
This topic came up during Friday’s press conference ahead of the game, with a reporter asking Klopp who he thought was a better player, him or Mourinho.
“Does anyone know what position Mourinho played? Don’t blame me if you don’t know it,” Klopp replied.
“Does anybody know? I think he was a goalkeeper… I want to know now. Come on! Google it! We have time!“
Mourinho was, in fact, a midfielder who played less than 100 games in his career in the 1980s for the likes of Rio Ave and G.D. Sesimbra. Klopp, meanwhile, was marginally more successful, spending the vast majority of his playing career – in which he played both as a striker and as a defender – in the German second tier with Mainz 05.
The reporter in question informed Klopp as to the results of his Google query, prompting some surprise from the German.
“Sorry, Jose! He did play in goal in that charity game, though, so…“
The backwards glances will likely end here though, as Klopp’s Liverpool will look to extend their lead at the top of the Premier League with what would be their 20th win from 21 games this season.
Tottenham and are without a win in three games, their chances likely made that much more difficult by the news that England captain Harry Kane has been ruled out for several weeks due to a hamstring injury suffered against Southampton on New Year’s Day.