Wijnaldum: Klopp gave 2018 Champions League final team-talk in Ronaldo underwear

By Sports Desk August 14, 2019

Georginio Wijnaldum has given a unique insight into "special" Jurgen Klopp's man-management methods after revealing the Liverpool boss addressed his team ahead of the 2018 Champions League final wearing Cristiano Ronaldo-branded underwear.

The Reds boss has carved a reputation for his jovial antics and, according to midfielder Wijnaldum, the German's pre-match team-talk for the showdown against Real Madrid - for whom then-star player Ronaldo was the chief threat - was no exception after he lightened the mood in his own inimitable style.

"We saw he was wearing the boxer shorts of Cristiano Ronaldo," the Netherlands midfielder told The Athletic. 

"He did the meeting with his shirt stuffed inside his 'CR7' boxers. The whole changing room was on the floor laughing their heads off. That really broke the ice. Usually in those situations, everyone is serious and concentrated. But he was relaxed and made this joke.

"He's done hundreds of jokes likes that. If you see that your manager is really confident and relaxed, it will have an effect on players. He is a father figure in those things for the players. With his jokes and his body language, he takes the pressure off players."

Liverpool ultimately lost the game 3-1 but went one better the following season, defeating Tottenham 2-0 to claim a sixth triumph in Europe's premier competition.

It has cemented Klopp's status as one of the world's leading coaches and Wijnaldum has paid tribute to the German's man-management style.

Wijnaldum said: "He always tries to empathise with the other person, to feel what they're going through. He is a really special man for me. I see him as more than a manager - a really good friend."

He continued: "He is the kind of manager that will be angry about things in the game, or will show emotion during a game, but when it comes to half-time, he speaks with you and gives you confidence. 'You can do it better. You have to do this, have to do that…'

"He is one of the first managers I've had who doesn't get angry when you try to do the things that you are good at. He will never be angry when you try to use your talent or quality. Even if it goes wrong.

"Since I am at Liverpool, he has helped me a lot. Not only with football, but also as a person, the way you think about things. That is why I enjoy every day of working with him. I can be really mad at him one day. But the next day the anger is gone and we will love each other again."

Related items

  • Solskjaer: Pogba is staying at Manchester United Solskjaer: Pogba is staying at Manchester United

    Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is adamant Paul Pogba will stay at Old Trafford amid links to Real Madrid and Juventus.

    Pogba said a "question mark remains" over his future following United's 4-0 rout of Chelsea in their Premier League opener on August 11.

    While the Premier League's transfer window has already closed, the LaLiga and Serie A markets remain open until September 2 – prompting ongoing speculation about a possible move to Madrid or a sensational return to Juventus.

    Solskjaer, however, has no concerns over star midfielder Pogba ahead of United's trip to Wolves on Monday.

    "You [the media] always put question marks around Paul," Solskjaer said. "I don't think it's odd saying enjoy playing, I have fun with my team-mates, I enjoy what I'm doing, I love my job and enjoy the game.

    "Of course that sentence with the question mark about him, there's always question marks about Paul.

    "There's not one press conference that I've not answered a question about Paul Pogba – 80 per cent of what he said was that he enjoyed that game and his time here.

    "I've got absolutely no concerns on Paul. For me, yeah, he's going to stay."

    Meanwhile, Solskjaer admitted United have "too many" centre-backs following the world-record arrival of Harry Maguire from Leicester City.

    With Maguire now at the Theatre of Dreams, Solskjaer's options also include Victor Lindelof, Axel Tuanzebe, Chris Smalling, Phil Jones, Marcos Rojo and Eric Bailly, who is recovering from a serious knee injury.

    Argentina international Rojo was linked with a deadline-day move to Everton but a transfer did not materialise.

    "I do have too many centre-backs to keep everyone happy," said Solskjaer. "But we need to win games, we need to perform, so we're going to pick the players that will give us the biggest chance to win games."

    "They're all quality centre-backs and I know that we will need quite a few of them," added Solskjaer. "Of course, Eric's injury means that at the moment I've got six fit ones, which is maybe one too many to keep everyone involved.

    "But then that's our jobs, to make the most of what we have now, and for them as well to make sure every day in training.

    "And when they get the chance, because they will – we've got loads of games, play well when you get it. All of these, Marcos, Phil, Chris – they've been here for a long time and they've proven that they can do it."

  • Neymar leaving PSG not possible without replacement, says Tuchel Neymar leaving PSG not possible without replacement, says Tuchel

    Thomas Tuchel admitted Paris Saint-Germain missed Neymar in their shock defeat to Rennes and ruled out an exit for the Brazil star unless an adequate replacement is brought in.

    Neymar's prolonged absence from the PSG squad continued on Sunday as the Ligue 1 champions fell to a 2-1 loss at Rennes in their first away outing of the new campaign.

    The 27-year-old Neymar has been recovering from an ankle injury that has ruled him out of action since early June, while questions remain over his future amid strong links with Real Madrid and former club Barcelona.

    After seeing his side struggle for creativity at Roazhon Park, however, head coach Tuchel stood firm on his stance that PSG must keep hold of the player.

    "He will not leave without recruitment, it is not possible," Tuchel said at his post-match news conference. "It's clear - if he stays, we will have a player who will help us win. 

    "We lacked capacity for acceleration. There were small situations where space opened but we were not decisive."

    Tuchel told Canal +: "I always say the same thing, the transfer window is open even more than 10 days and you think it will be settled tomorrow or the day after tomorrow?

    "What I think is not important. Today my player cannot play because he has not done any training like the others. This is the situation, and nothing has changed."

    Edinson Cavani was gifted a 36th-minute goal by Rennes following an error from Damien Da Silva, but PSG managed just one further shot on target and were made to pay by the side that also beat them in April's Coupe de France final.

    Goals either side of half-time from M'Baye Niang and Romain Del Castillo handed Rennes all three points, but Tuchel downplayed the magnitude of the defeat so early in the season.

    "It was a difficult match, but we expected it," he said. "We do not have everyone available. Some players only participated in two weeks of training. 

    "These situations are normal in August. We are not at our best. Against a physical team like Rennes, who gives everything, whose players run like crazy, in a match in prime time, it's normal that it was complicated for us. 

    "We scored the first goal, we controlled the match and made mistakes. We had to close the match after the first goal. We were not able to do it. 

    "We conceded a goal with a two against one in the area. We got very close to the Rennes area, but we lacked tenacity to win against some offensive. 

    "In these conditions, it was difficult to create opportunities. We can lose a match like that, but we could win it too."

    Despite a run of five away defeats in six league matches stretching into last season, Tuchel insisted he does not fear the sack and called for some patience.

    "I'm a very happy man," he said. "There is no one who is putting more pressure on myself than me. It's the same for every coach."

    "We can play better than today. Things are not easy - everyone has improved in Ligue 1 and the Champions League. It's time to be patient and to keep your confidence. We cannot question everything after a bad result."

  • Who is Eduardo Camavinga? The Rennes teenager taking Ligue 1 by storm Who is Eduardo Camavinga? The Rennes teenager taking Ligue 1 by storm

    Paris Saint-Germain endured another tough encounter against their Coupe de France final conquerors Rennes on Sunday, with the hosts coming from behind to claim a 2-1 win at Roazhon Park.

    Playing a starring role in a fine performance from Julien Stephan's side was 16-year-old midfielder Eduardo Camavinga.

    Romain Del Castillo's 48th-minute winner came courtesy of Camavinga's sumptuous cross – a moment typical of the quality the youngster carried throughout the contest.

    Here, we tell you a little bit more about a teenage talent who looks set to become one of the hottest properties in European football in the not-too-distant future.


    Latest talent off Rennes' conveyor belt

    Responsible for bringing through the likes of Sylvain Wiltord, Yoann Gourcuff, Yann M'Vila, Moussa Sow, Yacine Brahimi and Ousmane Dembele, Rennes clearly liked what they saw with Camavinga as he became the youngest player from their academy to sign professional terms.

    He signed in December 2018 after impressing at age-grade level and did not have to wait long to make an impact in the first team.


    History maker

    Camavinga was handed his debut in a 3-3 draw with Angers in April when brought on as a last-minute substitute for M'Baye Niang.

    The youngster impressed enough to play a further six times before the end of the 2018-19 campaign, starting four of those matches.

    The first of those starts came in a 2-2 draw with Monaco, making him the first player born after January 1, 2002 to start a game in the top five European leagues.


    If you're good enough, you're old enough

    Rennes knew they had a talent on their hands and, nine months after he penned his first professional contract, they offered Camavinga a new deal running through a further year until 2022.

    Perhaps unsurprisingly given the hype surrounding him, head coach Stephan has used the Angola-born teen in every minute of Rennes' three matches this season, including both matches against PSG.

    Having been on the losing side in the Trophee des Champions clash on August 3, Camavinga had a lot more joy when the sides locked horns in Ligue 1 on Sunday by setting up Del Castillo's winner early in the second half.

    In doing so, he became the youngest player to deliver an assist in the French top flight since Opta started recording such data in 2006-07.


    What next?

    The display against PSG will attract all the plaudits given the calibre of opposition and magnitude of the result, although Stephan will no doubt be just as pleased with Camavinga's performance against Montpellier the week before.

    Leading 1-0 when Flavien Tait was dismissed, Rennes did not lose control of the match thanks largely to their prodigious young talent.

    No Rennes player managed more touches of the ball or won more duels than Camavinga, who also ended the game with the second-highest pass count of any Rennes player – completing 97.6 per cent of those.

    It is surely now just a matter of time before Europe's heavyweight clubs, PSG included, begin to circle for a player who does not turn 17 for another three months.

    At his current rate of progression, and with new records being set seemingly on a weekly basis, Camavinga appears to be heading to the top.

© 2018 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.