Liverpool's drought-breaking English Premier League win reveals the emotional connection of football

CHARISMATIC: Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp addressing his players in the dressing room after winning the English Premier League title ending a 30-year drought. Below, Jurgen Klopp celebrating with the trophy.
CHARISMATIC: Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp addressing his players in the dressing room after winning the English Premier League title ending a 30-year drought. Below, Jurgen Klopp celebrating with the trophy.

WHEREVER a soccer ball is kicked in the world, you'll find the red shirt of a Liverpool fan.

It's estimated at least 450 million people across the globe support the Merseyside giants, so understandably when Liverpool secured the English Premier League last June to end their 30-year drought in winning the top-flight competition, it sent the COVID-stricken world into raptures.

Here in Australia Liverpool's victory was big news. Due to Newcastle's Craig Johnston, who won five league titles with the Reds in their halcyon days of the '80s, Australia is among Liverpool's most passionate foreign fan bases.

English film-maker James Erskine documented the club's euphoric run to the EPL crown in his documentary Liverpool: The End Of The Storm.

It briefly touches on German manager Jurgen Klopp joining Liverpool with lofty expectations in 2015 before picking up the story after the 2019-20 season where Liverpool narrowly missed the title by one point to Manchester City.

Erskine was invited to direct a documentary by the club after he impressed with his series This Is Football, which explained how the sport inspired hope after the Rwandan genocide through the eyes of three Liverpool fans in Kigali.

"Liverpool had seen that and thought it was quite an interesting emotional story about football, so they invited me to explore something in this season that could convey the power of the relationships between the team's journey and the fans' journey," Erskine said.

Liverpool: The End Of The Storm explores the attachment fans have for the Reds across the globe, telling the story of supporters in Egypt, India, the US, Brazil, China, Japan and Australia.

British newspapers The Guardian and The Times criticised the film's focus on foreign fans, but Erskine said those critics failed to understand the importance of connection that sport provides people from diverse backgrounds.

"It's as much about the identity of Abdula in Cairo as it is for John in Merseyside," he said.

The film features interviews with captain Jordan Henderson, Sadio Mane, Virgil van Dijk, Alisson Becker, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Roberto Firmino, but the real star is Klopp.

CHAMPIONS: Jurgen Klopp celebrating with the trophy.

CHAMPIONS: Jurgen Klopp celebrating with the trophy.

The glasses, beard and ridiculous white veneers make Klopp an almost cartoonish character, but his animated interviews delivered real insights.

"He's pretty much the same on camera as off camera," Erskine said. "He's very smart and very engaged.

"Interviewing him is interesting because he really wants to answer the question in front of him. He doesn't like to give stock answers. Honesty is really important to him.

"He's funny. He's a person who deals with everything and everyone in front of him in a very straightforward way. He carries that charisma and enthusiasm that he carries on the sidelines in his private life."

One of the most revealing moments was when Klopp uncomfortably spoke of wishing his late father could have seen him become a manager and his failure, due to a lack of maturity, in leaving his feelings about their relationship unsaid.

"I felt the film would never really work unless Klopp was honest about his own emotional journey, because he's not a distant puppet master, but a human being," Erskine said.

"It was important to show the victory was the completion of an emotional journey for Klopp."

LIVERPOOL: THE END OF THE STORM

Streaming on DocPlay from January 21