Željko Buva?: The Brain Behind Klopp’s Success

Posted on 16th October 2015


Jurgen Klopp’s infectious enthusiasm and energy make him the Heart, but it is Željko Buva? who is definitely the Brains. Together they make the perfect combination.

It’s an exciting time to be a Liverpool fan. The arrival of Jurgen Klopp has caused quite a stir and restored the faith at Anfield. The German manager is a brand, and his appointment has been seen as a clear message by the Liverpool board – Reds are aiming for the top.

Behind all the excitement there stood a problem. Liverpool wanted to keep Brendan Rodgers’ first-team staff and Sean O’Driscoll, Gary McAllister, Glen Driscool and Chris Davies were all seen as the stumbling block during the negotiations with Klopp who insisted on brining his own men. Do not attribute it to his stubbornness, it is quite simple – Klopp can not function without his people.

Best known member of Klopp’s backroom staff is definitely Željko Buva?.

Bosnian Serb born in Prijedor is not the man of many words. “I talk only when I have something to say”, Buva? said in what has perhaps been his only public statement so far. Perhaps it is a secret to his successful cooperation with his long-time friend, chatty and more verbal Jurgen Klopp. The pair played together in Mainz in the ’90s when they became inseparable friends and confidants, two ‘telepathically’ connected individuals.

“Željko is the epiphany of football reason. I learn from him every day. He is a football genius, a master of every practice drill”, Klopp used to say about his assistant.

Buva? has been working alongside Klopp for the past 14 years. Liverpool manager ended his career at 33 as the Mainz player, immediately taking reins of the only club he ever played for in his career. Klopp was anxious and scared to jump from the pitch straight on to the bench so he called his best friend to join him, and honoured the agreement the two had made – the first one to land a managerial job would bring the other to work with him. Three years of playing together with Buva? were more than enough for the pair to form an unbreakable bond.

Klopp is not ashamed to confess his every decision has to be approved by Buva?. Jurgen himself calls Željko ‘the brain’ and it was the Serb who has been credited for developing that recognizable high-speed attacking football at Borussia Dortmund which propelled Jurgen Klopp to stardom. Influence and significance of his faithful assistant have never been hidden from the public.

In fact, former BVB player Miloš Jovi? who was brought from Partizan in 2014 explained that Klopp’s first words to him were about Željko Buva?.

“He is the brain, I am the stomach. Those were the first words Klopp told me upon arrival to Dortmund. Jurgen is the one who does the talking, but Željko is the engine. They form a formidable duo”, said the Serbian midfielder.

During Klopp’s touchline suspension in 2013 when former Borussia Dortmund manager was sent of against Napoli for berating the fourth official Nuri Sahin described the pair as ‘twins’, claiming there was no difference between them in practice when Buva? took over all of the responsibilities.

“Both of them see football the same way”, he said in a testimony to pair’s vision and philosophy that has yielded some remarkable results.

Klopp and Buva? won the total of six trophies during their time in Dortmund. Back-to-back Bundesliga titles were obtained in 2010-2011 and 2011-2012, along with the DFB Pokal title in the same year. Klopp’s Dortmund also won three DFL Supercups in 2008, 2013 and 2014. Most regretted results has perhaps been the defeat in Champions League final to Bayern Munich in 2012-13, but Klopp and Buva?’s tenure at Dortmund had been nothing short of amazing.

The story of two friends is filled with Shakespearean romance and will most certainly be a good addition to all the hype and atmosphere created around the Liverpool’s charismatic manager. As a club whose stature was build upon the values that are hard to find in contemporary football, Liverpool are the perfect place for Buva? and Klopp, modern-day football’s Robin Hood and Little John.

About the author – Miloš Markovic

Sports journalist from Serbia, Editor in Cheif at Sportske.net and contributor to FutbolgradLive. Worked with Inforstrada and FIFA covering Serbia’s international games during the 2014 World Cup qualifiers.

twitter: @milosemarkovicu



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