Robin van Persie has revealed the greatest compliment he ever received as a footballer came from Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp.
Van Persie, who played for Arsenal and Manchester United in the Premier League, said that Klopp praised him after he starred for Arsenal against Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League in 2011.
The former Dutch international scored the opening goal in a 1-1 draw in the group stage of the competition that year, one of 37 he bagged in all competitions that term, but it was his versatility that caught Klopp’s eye.
“Jurgen Klopp has given me the nicest of compliments, saying ‘I’ve never seen a player playing in three positions at the same time,” the ex-striker told Voetbal International, as reported by Goal.
“I fell back in the game, went on the wings, was in front,” Van Persie reminisced.
“The team adapted to my playing style, they’ve played for me so that’s the only reason I scored the goal and delivered an outstanding performance.”
Under Klopp Liverpool have gone from strength to strength. They face Spurs in their second consecutive Champions League final on June 1, hoping to erase the pain of last year’s defeat to Real Madrid.
In the Premier League, they pushed eventual champions Manchester City all the way and only lost one game all season.
They fell agonisingly short, being pipped by one point in the final standings. The 97 points they amassed was the third highest points tally in the history of the competition, behind only City’s 98 this season and 100 last term.
Van Persie, who ended his playing days at the conclusion of the Eredivisie season, said how much he enjoyed watching Klopp’s team play.
“They play with four at the back and before that two blocks of three and those two blocks constantly cover each other at the back,” the 35-year-old continued. “It’s nice to see how that works together, there must be heaps of work, there is no other way.
“They have to trust each other, those players. If one goes, the others must be at his back, and another at his back.
“For Klopp, it must also be cool to see that his philosophy is really in that team.”