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Formby bids farewell to one of its favourite residents, Jurgen Klopp

4 weeks ago

Formby bids farewell to one of its favourite residents, Jurgen Klopp

Jurgen Klopp and his wife Ulla have become familiar faces with the residents of Formby.

The final match is about to be played and the removal vans have been a regular site outside a particular house for a few weeks now. When Jurgen Klopp finally says goodbye to Liverpool on Sunday it won’t just be football fans who will be sad to say goodbye.

The Liverpool manager, his wife Ulla, and their family have become part of the community in Formby since they moved into the large, detached house that was also once home to Reds legend Steven Gerrard and former manager Brendan Rodgers.

Despite living behind high gates in a private lane in the seaside town, the Klopps have become much valued members of the local community. Happy to queue for their tea in the local chip shop, The Good Catch, or enjoy a quiet meal and drink at nearby pub The Freshfield, they have a down to earth nature that is rare in a game filled with millionaires and huge egos.

During the pandemic they generously (and they thought privately) bought vouchers for staff working in the local supermarkets as a thank you to frontline workers. They had hoped to keep the gesture quiet and certainly didn’t seek any thanks for it, but such is life in a small town and word soon spread of their kindness.

At the same time, Klopp was regularly spotted walking his beloved dog through the woods and on the beach and was always happy to stop for a socially distanced chat with fans.                                                                                                                                       

Meanwhile Ulla contributed to the work of Formby Community Football Club, whose volunteers were organising food and medicine deliveries for the vulnerable. Jurgen had got to know about the club and its work during dog walks at Deansgate Park where its teams play home matches.

But even before the pandemic their kindness was clear to a local family who were organising a charity event in memory of their late sister. Despite being a family of Evertonians, Klopp met their request to sign a shirt with a bag full of signed Liverpool memorabilia – including one of his famous caps – which raised thousands for Queenscourt Hospice in Southport.

It was also not unusual to see Klopp catching a bit of play at Formby Cricket Club if there was a match taking place when he walked past.

When lifelong Liverpool fan Neil Pullar from Formby suffered a sudden cardiac arrest in 2022 Ulla learned he was critically ill through a mutual friend. 

His wife Mel said: “Completely out of the blue I received a message from Ulla sending love from her and Jurgen. I was overwhelmed – and I’m an Everton fan!”

A few days later a signed shirt and hand written note were pushed through the letter box. Neil was still in hospital but news of the gift was a huge boost to him in his recovery.

Signed football shirt given to Neil

Neil said: “It was such a kind and unprompted gesture, and it meant a lot. So many people in Formby helped us at the time and it illustrated how they are part of that community.

“Now, when I am out running or walking the dogs and Jurgen is passing, he always stops to say hello and ask how I am. That is a measure of the man and shows how genuine he is, how genuine the whole family is.”

In an era of smart phones and social media, it’s difficult for footballers and managers to socialise, but the local community have generally been respectful of the couple if they are spotted out and about in Formby with family and friends.

Jurgen Klopp and his family recently dined in Formby’s pan-Asian restaurant Suay and signed chef Wimon Thupphimon’s whites.

Suay co-owner Billy Riley said: “We were thrilled to welcome Jurgen to our restaurant in the last few weeks of his time in Liverpool. 

Picture – Suay

“He and his family have been regular customers of ours during their time in Formby – always friendly and pleasant.”

Even after he leaves there will be a reminder of Klopp’s time in Formby after the road signs at either end of the leafy lane that has been his home since 2015 have been re-painted red and white instead of the usual black or blue elsewhere in the area.

At one point the Klopps were joined by assistant Peter Krawietz who lived across the road, and player Naby Keita who even stayed next door for a while. Defender Andy Robertson lived further along the same stretch and former players Sadio Mane and Fabhinho lived just a short distance away.

But it was Jurgen Klopp and his family that Formby people took to their hearts and their leaving will leave a hole in the local community.

Billy Riley added: “They will be sorely missed in the village, and we hope they’ll come back and visit in the not too distant future. They will always be welcome here.”

Read more about Klopp’s impact on Liverpool Football Club and the city of Liverpool HERE.

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