Christian Pulisic hopes Borussia Dortmund can follow in Liverpool’s footsteps by making an impact in the Champions League this season.
The USA international got a close look at Jurgen Klopp’s Reds when the sides met in their International Champions Cup clash in Charlotte, North Carolina last weekend.
Pulisic’s impact was decisive, the 19-year-old scoring two goals and helping create another as Lucien Favre’s men came from behind to win 3-1.
And in an exclusive interview with Goal, the attacking midfielder revealed he had watched with interest as Liverpool thrillingly fought their way to the Champions League final back in May. They eventually came up short, beaten by Real Madrid in Kiev, but Pulisic believes their run should serve as an inspiration for clubs such as his own.
“It was incredible to see their run to the final,” he said. “We would like to do something like that ourselves this year, I have to say. That’s the ultimate goal.”
Pulisic, naturally, takes a keen interest in how Klopp is doing. It was the German who gave him his first chance to train with Dortmund’s senior side as a 16-year-old during the 2014/15 season, and though Klopp would be gone before he could make his first-team debut, the two clearly share a mutual respect.
In Charlotte, Klopp spoke of Pulisic’s “huge talent” and tipped him to become “a big player” for club and country. He likes him a lot – and the feeling is mutual.
“He was there when I came,” Pulisic said. “I was obviously playing with the youth teams at Dortmund, but he was the one who gave me my first professional training session, just to give me a taste of it.
“He always accepted me and he was very kind to me, so I will always be thankful for that. I know he’s a great guy, and it’s nice to see him doing so well for Liverpool.”
Asked if Klopp was the kind of manager players enjoy playing under, Pulisic added: “Yes, absolutely. I personally didn’t get to know him too well, but I’ve heard stories from some of my team-mates who did, and they loved playing for him.”
The two had crossed paths before last Sunday’s game in Charlotte, of course. Few will forget when Dortmund came to Anfield for a Europa League quarter-final second leg in April 2016. It ranks as one of the great European nights in the Reds’ history.
Pulisic watched the drama unfold from the bench, an unused substitute on a night when Dortmund led 3-1 and 4-2 on aggregate but eventually succumbed to Dejan Lovren’s stoppage-time header in front of the Kop.
“Yes, I remember it very clearly!” Pulisic says, with a wry smile. “I was substitute that night, and didn’t get to be involved. But it was the wildest game that I’ve ever been a part of!
“The atmosphere in that stadium… wow! You could see why it’s so difficult to play there. There was a point in that game where we were just kind of looking around saying ‘wow, this is insane!’ It was as if you could just feel what was coming. Yeah, it was a tough night for us!”
He adds: “I think there are similarities between the two stadiums, actually, Anfield and Signal Iduna Park. There is always a good atmosphere at both. But yeah, at Liverpool, it’s pretty insane!”
Pulisic, of course, is a name regularly linked with a move to the Premier League, though there is no suggestion whatsoever that he is seeking to leave Dortmund or that the Bundesliga club are ready to sell one of their prized assets. At 19, the world is at the young American’s feet.
Pulisic on Anfield atmosphere: It's so difficult to play there
“It was the wildest game that I've ever been a part of.” Borussia Dortmund man Christian Pulisic recalls his side's famous Europa League quarter-final clash with Liverpool at Anfield in 2016. 🔥 #BVB #LFC #UELPosted by Goal.com on Friday, 27 July 2018
But, as a fan, what does he think of English football?
“I know it’s a great league,” he says. “It’s the league I watched the most growing up. In the US, you can’t really escape it!
“I know it’s a league full of top teams, so it’s cool that we’ve been able to compete against some of those teams in pre-season. It’s been a good test for us.”
Pulisic hopes Dortmund can build on a mixed campaign last time out, a season of upheaval in terms of both management and playing staff. They were eliminated at the group stage of the Champions League last season, but having squeezed into the final qualification spot on the final day of the Bundesliga campaign, he is ready for another crack at Europe’s biggest prize.
And ready to use Liverpool as a guide as to what can be achieved with the right mentality, a bit of belief and a young, hungry squad.
“Exactly!” he smiles. “Exactly.”