Jurgen Klopp admits he will have a hard time keeping his emotions in check when his Liverpool side play Borussia Dortmund away on Thursday in the Europa League quarterfinal, first-leg.
The Reds manager enjoyed seven stellar years at Signal Iduna Park and can expect a warm welcomed in Dortmund ahead of the return leg at Anfield on April 17.
The 48-year-old steered Dortmund to the 2011 Bundesliga title, the league and cup double in 2012 and the 2013 Champions League final before walking away at the end of last season.
But he admits entering the Dortmund stadium again, this time as the away coach, will be a challenge.
“To blend out all the trapping could be very difficult,” admitted Klopp, who still knows the majority of the stadium staff at the Signal Iduna Park – “even the parking attendants”.
Klopp says walking through the stadium’s corridors will be like returning home.
“I don’t need a welcome at the stadium, I know where we all stand in relation to each other,” he added.
Dortmund captain Mats Hummels summed up Klopp’s relationship to Borussia: “Our shared history is much too large to be affected by a match.”
Dortmund’s home leg has been dubbed the ‘Jurgen Klopp derby’ and been the subject of much hype in the German media.
Klopp said three or four Dortmund players wrote him excited SMS messages after the draw.
“We’ll greet each other in friendly fashion, part in a friendly fashion – and in between get on each others nerves for the 90 minutes,” he added.
He is mindful of showing no disrespect to current Dortmund coach Thomas Tuchel.
His successor has given Borussia fresh impetus – they are second only to Bayern Munich in the German league and one of the favourites to lift the Europa League title.
“I do not want to give the impression that the past was better than the present,” added Klopp.