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Ex-Man star Kagawa confirms only thing Ferguson and Klopp have in common

Shinji Kagawa is the only player to have been managed by both Sir Alex ­Ferguson and Jurgen Klopp.

And, according to the Japan international, the only thing they have in common is a burning desire to win.

Kagawa, 31 and at Greek club POAK, made his name playing for Klopp at Borussia Dortmund when the Kop boss was building his ­reputation by winning ­back-to-back Bundesligas.

That paved the way for a £17million move to ­ Manchester United in 2012 – when Ferguson lifted the last of his 13 Premier League titles before announcing his retirement.

It was a tough learning curve for the attacking ­midfielder at Old Trafford – peaking with a hat-trick against Norwich before he was sold back to Dortmund at the end of his second
season.

Kagawa’s memories are of a German who showed nothing but love to his players and a Scot who would fly into such red-faced rages that even the biggest stars were too scared to ­challenge him.

Kagawa was a star player under Klopp at Borussia Dortmund

“There are so many ­memories with Jurgen Klopp that it’s hard to pick just one,” said Kagawa, in his role as an ambassador for ­Laureus Sports.

“But if I were to describe him, he is a manager that has true love for his players.

“He’s always thinking about his players, supporting them in important ­moments when they’re on the pitch.

“So, as a player, I was ­always able to take to the pitch without any concern.

“I always felt there was nothing to fear as long as I followed his lead. That’s the type of ­manager he was.”

Kagawa added: ­“Unlike Jurgen, Sir Alex was a manager that ­everyone knew.

“Jurgen was still a young manager and did not have any ­titles under his belt, so while he was very well known in Germany, he wasn’t known around the world.

“But everyone knew Sir Alex Ferguson and respected him, so I had no hesitation in taking up the opportunity to play for him.

Kagawa saw less game-time at United
Kagawa saw less game-time at United

“When Sir Alex shouted at half-time and players like Wayne Rooney, Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes weren’t able to say a word back, I ­realised he was a man of great stature.

“I also noticed that he ­demanded a lot from the more experienced players over the youngsters like myself. This was his style of management.

“I saw for myself that he would turn bright red when he yelled. He would really let it out at every single game. It was allowed because he was Sir Alex.”

Kagawa was 21 when Klopp brought him to ­Europe in a £275,000 deal with Cerezo Osaka.

At the end of his first ­season, Dortmund had won their first title in nine years and Kagawa was named in the Bundesliga team of the year. He was even more ­influential as Klopp’s team retained their crown by eight points over Bayern Munich.

Kagawa said: “It’s almost unreal to be able to ­experience winning the ­Bundesliga in your first year in Europe – and then again in your second year.

Klopp won two Bundesliga titles at Dortmund
Klopp won two Bundesliga titles at Dortmund

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“I look back on my ­encounter with Klopp as a form of destiny. I hadn’t ­experienced failure and I was full of confidence and drive.

“I felt like everything was so easy. Of course, I learned later on in my career that things aren’t so easy and my confidence was broken. Looking back, meeting Klopp and playing for ­Dortmund was a truly ­amazing experience for me.”

When Ferguson wanted to take Kagawa to Old Trafford in the summer of 2012, it was an offer he felt compelled to accept once he had met the United manager.

Kagawa added: “I wanted to speak with Ferguson ­before I committed, so I met him at a Manchester hotel.

“I was totally blown away by his aura and character.

“He was already around 70 then, but he had a presence beyond my imagination.

“It was a shame I spent only a year with him, but he was a manager who made a lasting impression.”

Liverpool are nominated for the Laureus World Team of the Year Award alongside the Argentina Men’s Rugby Team, Bayern Munich, Kansas City Chiefs, LA Lakers and Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team.

The 2021 Laureus Awards will reflect a unique year of sport when athletes used their platforms to instil hope, influence change in society and prove that sport can change the world for the better.

While celebrating the highest sporting achievements, this year’s Awards will also honour those whose actions have transcended the court, track or field of play.




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