K E I R R A D N E D G E C O M M E N T A R Y
—– Jurgen Klopp looked a lonely figure as he walked across towards the yellow wall after defeat at Wembley. But appearances are deceptive. Borussia Dortmund’s coach had an awful lot of friends out there. More than he could have counted. And not only in the stadium.
Dortmund’s 2-1 defeat by Bayern Munich in the first all-German Champions League Final was not a matter for argument. But both Bayern and Borussia delivered a lesson in fair play in the footballing heart of the country which thought it had invented the concept.
After the final whistle the Bayern players formed a guard of honour for the Dortmund team on the sad trudge up to collect their losers’ medals.
There were handshakes and hugs and recognition of the pain of defeat: Bayern’s players knew it so very well themselves after 2010 and last year.
The Dortmund fans in Wembley’s east end applauded and cheered and sang and awaited patiently for their heroes to walk across, arms around each other’s shoulders, to share in an exchange of mutual respect and thanks.
Before then, however, Klopp himself – while Bayern were taking centre stage atop the 39 steps – had walked into the penalty area and raised his hands in a gesture of applause to his fans.
Supp0orters of most losing English clubs in an FA or League Cup Final have abandoned the stadium long since by this point. Not the Dortmund faithful. Klopp recognised their loyalty and they responded.
His press conference was a mixture of regret and pride. Klopp thought Bayern should have had defender Dante sent off in conceding Dortmund’s equalising penalty but he did not dwell on the incident and its possible consequences.
He admitted that, in the immediate aftermath of defeat, he struggled to put an impressively entertaining season into perspective. But he has no doubt that Dortmund will be back: if not next season then the one after.
In the dressing room, he said: “I told my players: ‘Heads high!’ and we will come back, maybe not to Wembley, but we will try to come back to another final.
“It was a great season by my team and a really good match, maybe the best match against Bayern in this Champions League season.
“Now we have to make a holiday, buy some players – because we need some – and then we start again. The target is Lisbon [next year’s final venue]. Maybe that’s very soon. But in two years it’s in Berlin. Maybe this would be a good place to come back to the Champions League Final.”
Klopp offered congratulations to Bayern and Jupp Heynckes “who merits this title and I’m very happy he won it.”
Correctly he noted: “We could have won it. There were a few things which we might have decided differently but ultimately they got two goals.
“I need a moment to feel proud again but I’m sure it’s slumbering within me. I am proud of my team but, at the moment, disappointment prevails and if you are looking forward to something it hurts to lose. But my team played a great game. They were really passionate. They deserved to equalise.
“Next week I have much work to build a new team and then go on holiday. Then I can look back on this season: it was great. We really deserved to be in the final and we showed it. That was important.”
Klopp’s summing-up of the day said it all: “What the fans did was brilliant, the whole atmosphere was brilliant, this Olympic city was brilliant, we enjoyed all the Olympic Games, the sun shone, everything was great . . . only the result was shit.”
Dortmund’s fans, as Klopp stood before them, recognised the unique moment; a man of his talent, style and personality will not remain with them much longer.
Klopp may travel on to many grander clubs and manage many greater achievements. But he will never again share such a bond as he and his fans sealed in those precious seconds of Wembley defeat.