I took up my dad's idea and now my dreams have come true

Abigail Rudkin is a talented artist from Merseyside
Abigail Rudkin is a talented artist from Merseyside -Credit:Abigail Rudkin

A talented artist did a favour for her dad and ended up meeting her hero.

Abigail Rudkin, 23, from Aintree, found her calling in life as a teenager. Like many Liverpool FC fans, the arrival of Jurgen Klopp on Merseyside inspired her to showcase her passion for the manager and the successful team he assembled.

Speaking to the ECHO, Abigail said: “I was 14 when he came in. He propelled my love of art with his character and personality.

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“His personality - he’s a humanitarian like the rest of us. It became easy to adore him and adopt him as one of us.”

Abigail went on to study for a fine art degree at Liverpool Hope University. As the covid lockdown began in 2020, Liverpool were on the brink of winning their first league title in 30 years.

Abigail however was feeling restless until her dad Rob came up with an idea. She said: “When it was lockdown, he said, will you do us a painting of Jurgen for the house? I did and posted it on Twitter.

“It got 70 likes. I thought, wow people actually like my artwork. It sort of blew up from there.

“It was so frustrating trying to do university paintings from home. I decided to take a different route.”

Abigail expanded to paint other Liverpool players and started selling her artworks on Etsy. However, she said Klopp was always her favourite to draw. She said: “Because of his teeth, when he’s got his big smile, I find him so easy to draw. Smiles like that are quite easy to capture.”

Despite her talent, Abigail revealed that she came close to quitting this line of work last year and considered sticking to her original plan to become an art teacher. She eventually decided against this and continued drawing and selling her work while she studied a part-time masters in fine art at the University of Manchester.

Abigail with her 'Danke Jurgen' artwork
Abigail with her 'Danke Jurgen' artwork -Credit:Abigail Rudkin

She has also become a prominent media personality, discussing Liverpool on The Anfield Wrap, The Redmen TV and The Overlap fan debate on Sky Sports.

She also does work with LFC’s affiliated charity, the LFC Foundation. In a recent event, she revealed that her dream was for Klopp to see her artwork before he left Anfield at the end of the season.

Thankfully, employees at the foundation were able to arrange this. Abigail took one of her artworks to the club’s training centre in Kirkby on Thursday May 2. The piece depicts Klopp being aloft in front of the Kop full of banners, including one saying 'Danke Jurgen'.

Abigail said: “I was there with Peter [Edwards) from the LFC Foundation. I also got it printed on a t-shirt from Redmen TV. We walked in and were waiting for him to turn up.

“Then Jurgen walked down the stairs. He looked at the painting but was talking to other people. He was staring at the artwork for ages and he adored it.

“He said, ‘that’s amazing.’ He then said, ‘you and me need to do a video together.’ He handed the phone over to Peter.

“It brought me close to tears. I was in shock the whole time. Then Virgil van Dijk comes down the stairs and starts casually speaking to me, asking how long it took to paint. I couldn't believe it. It was mad.

Abigail meeting Jurgen
Abigail meeting Jurgen -Credit:Abigail Rudkin

“I get stressed about posting artwork online in case I get negative feedback. I never thought Jurgen would get to see it.

“I thought, what if (Klopp) doesn’t like it? I'd be devastated. I was ecstatic when he saw it and he liked it.”

Abigail’s video with Klopp was viewed thousands of times, but her whirlwind of a week wasn’t over yet. After attending the Tottenham game on Sunday, which Liverpool won 4-2, her and her dad met up with her uncle Paul Forman.

As she got in her car and began driving home, she noticed her phone was buzzing with notifications and didn’t know what was going on. She began to work out that Klopp had said something about her in his post-match press conference.

Abigail said: “I was driving home from the game. I was getting tweets in the car and getting tagged. The phone signal around Anfield is terrible and I couldn't load anything. I started asking people what he'd said. I thought, this can’t be real.

“I finally got the YouTube video to load. I was trying to fast forward because it was an 8 minute video.”

It transpired that a reporter had asked Klopp about ‘the girl in with the painting’ he had met as an example of the creativity of fans. Klopp replied: “I met Abigail. What a wonderful girl she is and obviously very talented. Liked the drawing. But did I think a second before or a second after about it? No, I don’t have time for these things.

“I’m really happy that we have these kinds of people, and we have thousands of them. Maybe 100,000 people who are creative who create things, who paint different faces on the wall where you think, ‘My god!’ Other clubs don’t do that that frequently.”

For Abigail, there was one thing about this that stood out to her. She said: “The fact he remembered my name was the biggest thing. I can't believe he corrected someone. I didn't expect him to remember my name at all.”

It’s moments like this which Abigail says she’ll miss as much as the success he’s brought on the pitch. She said: “I'm devastated. We’re losing that character, not just the style of football he coaches.”

Nevertheless, Abigail has optimism for what the future holds, and says she will continue her LFC-related artwork. She said: “As an artist who’s painted Jurgen many times, it's scary but also exciting about what’s round the corner.

“He wants a break and we've got to respect that. He’s given us so much.

“I tend to try and stick to Liverpool if I can. I love Liverpool, I go to every single game. When Jurgen leaves, I'll still be painting Liverpool artwork.

“I went from working in the club shop - I worked from 16 to 20 years old on matchdays. In the Barcelona 4-0 game, you could hear the goals coming in two seconds before you saw them on the TV.

“This time a year ago, things had really slowed down. I had loads of health issues. I thought I might have to give this up. I planned to become a teacher. I thought, should I do the PGCE?

“But I stuck to it, I've carried on and my dream has happened.”

You can find out more about Abigail’s work here.

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