Sadio Mane has developed into one of the world’s best attackers since joining Liverpool in 2016, but Klopp admits he had a very different perception of his Senegalese superstar when they met in Germany years ago.
“I remember my first encounter with Sadio. It was in Dortmund. There was a really young guy sitting there. His baseball cap was askew, the blond streak he still has today,” Klopp said.
“He looked like a rapper just starting out. I thought, ‘I don’t have time for this’”.
“I’d say I have a pretty good feeling for people, but was I wrong! I followed his further career and continued success at Salzburg. In Southampton he just dominated.”
Mane may have looked better suited to an actual stage, than the world stage of football, but it got the pop culture team at beIN SPORTS thinking: which rappers would these star footballers be?
Zinedine Zidane: Jay Z
Two patriarchs of the game who refined their craft to the highest level, Jay Z and Zinedine Zidane are commonly cited by newcomers as their inspiration.
Both men were able to continue their unparalleled success in new ventures as Zidane lead Real Madrid to three consecutive UEFA Champions League titles, while Jay Z cultivated an entertainment empire in Roc Nation.
Mathieu Flamini: 50 Cent
Both enjoyed a decent enough career performing at the highest level in their primes, but really struck gold in retirement.
Flamini became a billionaire after establishing a biochemicals company in 2008, while 50 Cent ought to change his name after raking in $100 million when his company Vitamin was acquired by Coca Cola.
Paul Pogba: Stormzy
An obvious choice, two Manchester United fans and good mates – plus Stormzy released a track about Paul Pogba, and the Frenchman appeared in the music video.
Memphis Depay: Memphis Depay
Memphis Depay is actually a rapper, but it remains to be seen whether he's a more talented wordsmith than he is a (foot)baller. The Lyon star appears to have lined up his next gig after football dropping rap single 'fall back' to his followers on YouTube.
It’s not the only time the aspiring MC showcased his skills on the mic, with this freestyle in 2018 to celebrate reaching five million followers.
Karim Benzema: Drake
Karim Benzema and Drake both ascended to the top of their fields young, and neither has fallen off since.
There’s also plenty of mutual admiration between the two, Benzema was thrilled to get a picture with Drake after his performance at the 2015 Governer's Music Festival in New York, while Drake described the Frenchman as ‘my secret weapon in FIFA.’
Lionel Messi: Eminem
Much like Messi, Eminem has been at the top of the game for his entire career.
It’s easy to overlook the two on outward appearances, but when put on the big stage - there’s no denying they are both among the very best to have attempted their craft.
Ronaldinho: Snoop Dogg
Football, like rap can be a divisive topic, there’s Messi v Ronaldo, Biggie v Tupac, but no matter which side you’re on there are a couple of colourful characters which are adored by all. Take Brazil legend Ronaldinho and his rap counterpart Snoop Dogg.
Snoop and Ronaldinho boast an unmistakable style and affinity for a good time – while remaining relevant in the pop culture well into the twilight of their respective careers.
Robinho: Lil Wayne
Lil Wayne could be compared to other Brazilians whose meteoric rise was followed by a sudden fall into oblivion (Adriano or Alexandre Pato), but former Real Madrid prodigy Robinho gets the nod here for his diminutive stature, which best resembles Weezy’s.
Thierry Henry: Nas
Thierry Henry was regarded as the best in the world in his prime, and widely regarded as a pioneer of the modern game, much like Brooklyn-based rapper Nas.
As good as the pair both were in their day, they also share the frustration of being overlooked in the conversation for the greatest of all-time.
Cristiano Ronaldo: Kanye West
Cristiano Ronaldo and Kanye West are two of the most recognisable, yet divisive stars on the planet, but their talent and worth ethic is undeniable.
Plus, if the tabloids are true, Ronaldo once shared a brief fling with reality TV star Kim Kardashian, who happens to be Kanye West’s wife.
Mesut Ozil: Kendrick Lamar
Mesut Ozil and Kendirck Lamar are both celebrated by the purists for their technical approach and breathtaking ability when in full flow.
They may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but remain widely praised for their ability to making the incredibly complicated look effortless.
Marco Van Basten: 2pac Shakur
Marco Van Basten and Tupac Shakur were at the height of their fame in the early 90’s before the world was suddenly deprived of their talent.
Injury forced the AC Milan legend to retire at 28, while Tupac was tragically killed in 1996 aged 25, leaving their adoring fans to wonder what could have been.
Sergio Busquets: Grandmaster Flash
Like one of rap's founding fathers - Grandmaster Flash - Barcelona metronome Sergio Busquets keeps it old school in his approach. Their art forms are elegant, concise and pleasing to the senses.