Borussia Dortmund chief executive Hans-Joachim Watzke has revealed he asked Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp to return to the Bundesliga side last year.
Klopp, 52, won two league titles during a hugely successful seven-year tenure at Dortmund, before departing in summer 2015 and moving to Anfield a few months later.
The German has since guided the Reds to a sixth European Cup earlier this year, as well as leading them to another European final a year earlier – which they lost against Real Madrid.
They are also serious contenders to win the Premier League, sitting eight points clear at the top of the table after winning all of their opening eight matches this season.
But Klopp could have left Anfield before achieving that Champions League win, it has been revealed.
Dortmund were struggling after a difficult 2017/18 campaign which saw Peter Bosz sacked before interim boss Peter Stoger secured a fourth-place finish.
Writing in his new book, REAL LOVE. A life with BVB, Watzke confirmed he offered Klopp the chance to make a sensational return to the Westfalenstadion – though the Reds boss politely declined the offer.
“I knew that Jurgen would [decline], that he will fulfil his contract in Liverpool,” he wrote.
“Jurgen has always fulfilled his contracts, but if you want to go new ways and we had to break new ground at BVB, then at least I had to ask Jurgen if he could possibly imagine that.
“I did not expect that at all, but I would not have forgiven myself for not asking him at that moment.”
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Klopp, who recently celebrated his four-year anniversary at Anfield, was mid-flight when he took the call from Watzke.
He revealed: “My phone rang while I was on the plane. ‘Jurgen, you have to come back’. I thought he was kidding.
“Are you stupid? Have you been drinking? How did you get the idea? I’ve got a few more years in Liverpool.”
After failing to tempt Klopp back to Germany, BVB hired Lucien Favre as their new head coach and he secured them a runners-up finish in the Bundesliga last season.
A shaky start to the current campaign sees Dortmund down in eighth after seven matches, having claimed only three victories to date.