South African cricket skipper Faf du Plessis confessed on Tuesday that a chance meeting with current FIFA Club World Cup-winning team’s gaffer Jurgen Klopp had turned him into a fan.
Proteas skipper Du Plessis was having dinner with South African rugby captain Siya Kolisi in a Cape Town restaurant in November when Liverpool’s manager Klopp, on a private visit to South Africa, walked in.
The former Borussia Dortmund manager instantly recognised Kolisi after watching the Springboks win the Rugby World Cup final in Japan some 10 days earlier and came across to congratulate him.
“Did he recognise you?” asked a journalist at Du Plessis’ press conference ahead of the first Test against England, which is slated to begin on Boxing Day.
“No,” admitted the cricket captain to laughter. “But he said he watches cricket. The Liverpool guys watched the Cricket World Cup and saw how well England did.”
Du Plessis said he had never been a huge soccer fan, but Faf admitted that meeting Klopp had changed that.
“I am not a huge football fan, I don’t support a lot but I do support him now.”
“For someone to be that famous, he is a great guy and that’s what I believe real leadership is about. It’s about connecting with people, having great relationships with people, so I became a massive fan.”
South African cricket has recently suffered from turbulent times in both on and off-field activities and the likes of Graeme Smith, Mark Boucher, and Jacques Kallis have been enlisted to steady the ship and Du Plessis is delighted to have them on board.
“Why have these guys not been here for the last 10 years?” he said.
“If you look around international cricket, other teams have got that. Think of Australia – Justin Langer, Steve Waugh, Ricky Ponting. We need that. We want that.
“There is a vision. The test team is still in an infant stage. The plan is to get back [to number one]. As a Test team, we do need to mature.”
South Africa are set to host England from mid-December until mid-February for four Test matches, three ODIs, and three T20Is.