The recently-crowned Best FIFA Men’s Coach tried to motivate his team using clips of the classic movie, but his speech backfired as the majority of his players were too young to understand the reference.
“My Borussia Dortmund team were playing Bayern Munich,” Klopp told The Players’ Tribune .
“It was a huge match in the league. We hadn’t won in Munich in something like 20 years. I take a lot of inspiration from movies, so whenever I needed to motivate the boys I would always think of Rocky Balboa. In my opinion, they should show Rocky 1, 2, 3 and 4 in public schools all across the world. It should be like learning the alphabet. If you watch these movies and you don’t want to climb to the top of a mountain, then I think something is wrong with you.”
“So the night before we played Bayern, I gathered all my players at the hotel for our team talk. I told them the truth of the situation: ‘The last time Dortmund won in Munich, most of you were still in your Pampers.’ Then I started playing some scenes from Rocky IV on the screen. The one with Ivan Drago. A classic, in my opinion.
“Drago is running on the treadmill, and he’s hooked up to the big computer monitors and the scientists are studying him. I told the boys, ‘You see? Bayern Munich is Ivan Drago. The best of everything! The best technology! The best machines! He’s unstoppable!’ Then you see Rocky training in Siberia in his little log cabin. He’s chopping down pine trees and carrying logs through the snow and running up to the top of the mountain.
“I told the boys, ‘You see? That’s us. We are Rocky. We are smaller, yes. But we have the passion! We have the heart of a champion! We can do the impossible!’ I was going on and on, and then at some point, I look out to all my boys to see their reaction.
“I was expecting them to be standing up on their chairs, ready to go run up a mountain in Siberia, going absolutely crazy. But everyone is just sitting there, staring at me with dead eyes. Completely blank. They’re looking at me like, ‘What in the world is this crazy man talking about?’ So then I realised, ‘Wait, when did Rocky IV come out, 1980-something? When were these boys born?’ Finally, I said, ‘Wait a minute, boys. Please raise your hand if you know who Rocky Balboa is?’ Only two hands went up.
“Everyone else, ‘Nope, sorry, boss.’ My entire speech — nonsense! This is the most important match of the season. Maybe the most important match of some of the players’ lives. And the manager has been screaming about Soviet technology and Siberia for the last 10 minutes! Can you believe this? I had to start my whole speech over from scratch.
“You see, this is the real story. This is what actually happens in life. We are human beings. Sometimes, we embarrass ourselves. That’s how it is. We think we’re giving the greatest speech in the history of football, and we’re actually talking complete nonsense. But we get up the next morning and we go again.
“Do you know the strangest part of that story? I honestly cannot be sure if we won or lost the match. I am pretty sure that I gave this speech in 2011 before we won 3–1, and that certainly makes for a much better story! But I can’t be 100% sure. This is one thing about football that people don’t always understand. The results, you forget. You get them all mixed up.”