Last Friday morning, Jürgen Klopp dropped the bombshell that he will be stepping down as manager of Liverpool Football Club at the end of the season. He gave an in-depth interview for the club’s tv channel for his reasons for leaving. Even if you don’t follow Liverpool Football Club or aren’t interested in football, it is worth listening to it and his reasons for leaving. I have had conversations with clients who are in demanding jobs who have said similar things.
Klopp spoke about not having the energy that he needed to do the job. At the end of this season, he will have completed 23 years as a manager, with the last 9 of those as manager of Liverpool Football Club. He took the club from being also rans to being one of the best teams in the world. His side accumulated 97, 99 and 92 points in three out of four seasons, winning the Champions League and league title in those years. The expectations are huge and there is a massive amount of pressure being the leader of Liverpool Football Club. He will be 57 years of age in June and it get harder to carry on working under such pressure all the time.
Burn out isn’t restricted to managers of elite football clubs. People in high paying roles don’t earn those high salaries without having to give time and effort in return. US multi nationals in Ireland pay very well but they expect you to work for that money, including being available at night time for calls with their US based colleagues. It is a lot easier to do that when you are younger, but it gets harder and when you are in your late 50’s and you have been doing it for decades, it’s hard to keep that drive going.
Klopp spoke about wanting to be normal. To most people, he is the manager of Liverpool Football Club, a person who has brought so much joy to millions of people around the world. To his family, he is Jürgen. He is a husband and a father. In Liverpool, he is not able to go out and socialise without being mobbed. He lives in a bubble and it limited in what he can do, both due to his fame and the demands of the job. For example, he has work on Christmas Day as there is a round of fixtures on St Stephen’s Day. He is very limited on when he can take a break, it all revolves around the season. He just wants to go out and do normal things. He will always be recognised as Jürgen Klopp, but after a while, that attention will fade. Being able to go to the pub with his mates will be a new thing for him!
You don’t have to be famous to know what that attention is like. Lots of people have highly respected positions. They are the leading authority in the country in their position. They are asked to speak at conferences and having people waiting to meet them afterwards. They have lots of staff who look up to them.
But outside of work, they are just a normal person. In the gym class, they are just another person and not the partner in Ireland’s biggest law firm. In the fishing club, they are just another person and not one of Ireland’s top surgeons. They aren’t treated differently to anyone else. This is the life where people can be normal and don’t have to life up to the image that is built of them in work.
If you have had decades of high pressure roles and are living in a bubble, you just want to have a life like everyone else.