Manchester City midfielder Ilkay Gundogan has revealed Jurgen Klopp was like a father figure to him at Borussia Dortmund as he prepares to face off against his former coach for the first time in English football.
The Citizens travel to Anfield to face the German's Liverpool on Sunday afternoon knowing a win could help them extend their buffer at the top of the Premier League to 18 points over second place Manchester United.
However, on a more personal level, as the 27-year-old Sky Blues orchestrator makes the short trip to Merseyside this weekend he will have the chance to be reunited with his former manager for the first time since their time together in the Bundesliga following the player's plague of injuries since making the switch to the Etihad Stadium.
Gundogan shot to fame during his five-year stint at the Signal Iduna Park, where he was mentored by Klopp and part of the celebrated BVB outfit which claimed one league championship and Deutscher Pokal, as well as two German Super Cups.
You need a little bit of ingenuity when things are tight and Gundogan stepped up again. He’s replaced Silva in more open games, like Napoli/Spurs, but today he made a difference in a completely different environment, and in place of KDB. He’s really growing into it now— Sam Lee (@Sammy_Goal) January 6, 2018
Ahead of their meeting, the VfL Bochum academy graduate has opened up about what life was like working under his former boss, claiming his managerial methodologies meant he was seen more as a father figure, rather than just a coach.
"Kloppo was like a father to me and his speeches can be extremely motivating", the midfielder said, as quoted by AS.
OFFICIAL: Virgil Van Dijk is OUT of the Man City match, with Dejan Lovren set to replace him. 😳— SPORF (@Sporf) January 14, 2018
Liverpool fans right now...🙃 pic.twitter.com/kwyy0rcyMr
"There were times when he took the whip out, but he also embraced you and said, 'Boy, everything is okay'".
This is not the first time Klopp has been referred to in this manner, with current Liverpool attacker Sadio Mane also echoing Gundogan's statement in December of last year.
The Reds have the chance to become the first side to beat Manchester City domestically this season on Sunday, and doing so would lift themselves above Chelsea into third in the Premier League on goal difference.