Liverpool’s Jurgen Klopp receives the freedom of the city

Football manager Jurgen Klopp has vowed to defend Liverpool “forever” as he received the freedom of the city.

The Reds boss received the honour on Wednesday evening in a ceremony held at Liverpool Town Hall.

Speaking before the ceremony, Liverpool FC boss Klopp said: “The city of Liverpool is home, that’s how it is.

“We arrived here more than seven years ago, from the first moment people are very open, very friendly.”

He said he felt “very honoured and very privileged” to be given the freedom of Liverpool.

Liverpool Champions League Winners Parade
Liverpool players and staff on the bus during the Champions League Winners Parade in Liverpool (Danny Lawson/PA)

Referring to the right to drive sheep through city streets which comes with the honour, he said: “I’ve read a little bit about this, what it means.

“I read something about sheep in the city and stuff like this, I’m not 100% sure, but one of the duties is to defend the city, or in the past it was.

“I know they meant it differently but I will, with words, forever.”

Klopp, who is German, is the only foreign national to be given the honour apart from Nelson Mandela.

Hillsborough campaigner Margaret Aspinall, whose son James, 18, was one of 97 Liverpool fans who died in the 1989 disaster, was among friends, families and dignitaries at the ceremony to see him receive the honour.

Jurgen Klopp receives Freedom of the City of Liverpool
Liverpool FC manager Jurgen Klopp receives the Freedom of the City of Liverpool from Lord Mayor of Liverpool Roy Gladden (right) and chief executive Liverpool City Council Teresa Grant (Jason Roberts/PA)

Klopp said he met Mrs Aspinall soon after joining the club.

He said: “I cannot be more impressed to be honest, it’s unbelievable.

“We had a fairly close relationship from the beginning.

“I’m a person who really cares but Margaret helped me with understanding the situation because it was obviously quite long ago.

“I think it actually says the most about the club and the people in the city that we don’t forget it, in the right way.”

Mrs Aspinall said she was “absolutely delighted” to see him receive the honour.

She said: “He’s a great ambassador for our club and also our city.

“He’s just a great manager, a great human being, a great personality and a great humanitarian.”

Klopp, 55, became Liverpool manager in 2015 and under him the club has won the Champions League, the Premier League and the FA Cup.

During the ceremony, Lord Mayor of Liverpool Roy Gladden said Klopp had the traits of a “true Scouser”.

He praised his response to scenes outside the Stade de France in Paris ahead of the Champions League final this year, when fans were tear-gassed.

Mr Gladden said: “His actions lifted the spirits of many thousands who had been treated in such a violent and loathsome way.

“I promise him it will be a long time before this is forgotten.

Former Liverpool FC manager Sir Kenny Dalglish also spoke during the ceremony about the impact the club’s success under Klopp had on the city.

At the end of his speech, Sir Kenny said: “I’d  just like to say, Jurgen, I know you won’t have understood a word that I have said to you.

“Being a Liverpool fan and being fortunate enough to work at the club, danke schon.”

A video was played showing messages of congratulations from players and staff at the club, including captain Jordan Henderson who said: “I’ve been told if I get any car park fines you’re the man I need to come to.”

Klopp was given a standing ovation after signing the documents to become a freeman of Liverpool.