Jurgen Klopp discovers secret passion which has inspired Liverpool’s title triumph

Jurgen Klopp’s secret ­sporting passion can be revealed – padel tennis.

Pep Lijnders, Klopp’s trusted ­right-hand man at Liverpool, claims the Kop boss is king of the court.

And he struts around like flashy UFC star Conor McGregor when he wins big in daily games at the club’s Melwood training ground.

The German and his stars have nailed their first top-flight title in 30 years and will celebrate fully on Sunday after their final game at Newcastle.

And Dutch coach Lijnders admits some of their best tactical ideas have been hatched while playing the game – a mix of squash and tennis on a small indoor court with glass walls.

“We were playing the game with our staff and a few players. At first, we didn’t quite know what a padel court looked like and thought it had to be played a bit like table tennis.

“Our media officer looked up the rules of the game on the ­internet. We didn’t know he had given us the wrong rules till this Spanish chap came by and asked us what on earth we were doing. We said, ‘Playing padel tennis’.

“He laughed and said, ‘Well, I know one thing – you don’t play it like that!’.

“When we got back, the owners built a court for us at Melwood and now we are playing this game almost every day at our training centre.

“Jurgen is fanatical about it – and he’s good, too. But we never say he’s the best out loud – otherwise he starts to walk round like Conor McGregor.”

“The game has been a nice ­distraction from our daily routine. And yet, sometimes we come up with the best ideas to solve issues during these games.

“We sit down on a bench in between two sets and we discuss solutions for football problems. In fact, we do that a lot. When you are constantly playing matches or doing top-level training sessions every day, there is no time to wind down.

“So these games are the perfect moments to relax. We are playing one versus one.”

And uber-competitive Klopp takes no prisoners on the court.

“He battles for every point, with massive focus, too,” said Lijnders, 37. “Even when I am winning, he gets right under my skin.

“So when I do beat him, I let ­everyone at the club hear about it!’’

Lijnders, who moved to Anfield in 2014 after coaching at Dutch second division side NEC, has been bowled over by the reaction to Liverpool’s title win in Holland.

“It only dawned on me what ­winning the championship meant for Liverpool when I got bags of letters from the official Liverpool fan club in my home country,” he said.

“They wrote such lovely stuff – it really made me emotional and it still does. My God, I’m still choked.

“The chairman of the Dutch ­Liverpool fan club is a guy called Kim Olthof. He wrote a massive poem for ­everyone at the club. That was really touching.

“I have asked our media department to wrap up a speech from me with wonderful footage of this season and we will send it to them as a surprise, just like they surprised us all.

“There has been a lot of mystique around our Premier League title.

“First the club and the fans have to wait for 30 years, then Liverpool win the Champions League, the European Super Cup, the World Club Cup and finally the Premier League.

“All that in one year! It’s been ­truly amazing.”