Over the last few years, Jürgen Klopp has: told a translator mid-press conference that he has an erotic voice; freaked out a cookery class of children while repeatedly declaring his love for smoked salmon; called Barcelona “fucking giants” live on the BBC.
So, when a video of Klopp appeared last week, seeing the manager-cum-meme chugging a beer with a load of England supporters outside Wembley, it wasn’t all that surprising.
However, the man being cheered on by tinnie-toting fans wasn’t actually Klopp. Instead, it was “Cheeky Jürgen” – real name, Ray Cornwall – a 61-year-old property developer who looks the spitting image of the Liverpool boss, so much so that he managed to dupe Good Morning Britain correspondent Jonathan Swain following England’s Euros win over Germany.
Fresh off being absolutely mobbed again after England’s victory on Saturday, I had a quick catch-up with Ray.
VICE: When did this all kick off?
Cheeky Jürgen: I’d had the odd comment here and there that I look like Jürgen. But my granddaughter was always saying, “Why is papi always on TV?” and was pointing at the TV. So I thought, ‘You know what, if my granddaughter thinks I’m on TV, there’s obviously some mileage here.’ Suddenly, it’s gone fucking turbo.
Have you gone above and beyond to look so identical?
I spent several months doing the accent and getting the exact clothes. I even went to a theatrical dental agency, called Fangs FX, and said I wanted the exact copy of Jürgen’s teeth, and they did it. So I’ve got these clip-on veneers. I’ve got brown eyes, he’s got blue eyes, so I’ve got contact lenses. I’ve had my hair cut exactly the same. I’ve grown my beard longer than I normally have it. I’m exactly the same height, I’m exactly the same build and I speak a bit of German.
When did you first go out as Jürgen?
We went to the last match of the season, Crystal Palace. Liverpool had to win to stay in the Champions League – it was a do or die type of match. And it was the first match after lockdown where you could actually go to do something. I had such good craic. People were opening office windows and shouting on the street and stopping their cars in the road. I had one of the best weekends of my life going to Liverpool. The people are kind, funny, they’re witty.
Are you a Red yourself?
I’m actually from south London, mate. I’m a proper geezer. I support Millwall because I was born and raised in that part of London, so unfortunately my experience of football is Millwall. We don’t win much, but we have good craic, the beer’s cheap and we have a lot of banter. But I’m an honorary Liverpool fan now.
Tell me about your trip to Wembley last week.
It started on the train, I got mobbed. Then I walked down that mile stretch, there were TV cameras everywhere. There was German TV, they came up to me and thought I was Jürgen and started yapping to me in German. After about 30 seconds, they realised I wasn't Jurgen. They clocked it because I was going: “Ja, ja, schadenfreude, kleine gut,” so they were all looking at each other, bemused, going, “How come Jürgen can’t speak German?”
All the lads outside thought I was really him. A big strong guy put his head between my legs and lifted me up. I didn’t plan it, it just happened spontaneously. And the crowd started screaming: “Jürgen, Jürgen, Jürgen!” I think, within about two hours, we had like 3 million views. Yeah, it went fucking mental.
And this is where you met ITV’s Jonathan Swain, right?
He honestly thought I was Jürgen Klopp. It was a very quick one – literally two or three minutes. He didn’t want to bug me. We were watching breakfast TV the next morning, and Jonathan Swain said: “I actually met Klopp.” And we were going, “What the fuck!” I thought he was taking the piss.
How many people actually reckon you’re Klopp when you meet them?
I’d say, seriously, about 70 to 80 percent of people. The thing is, everyone wants me to be Jürgen. People will suspend a little bit of disbelief, because they desperately want me to be Jürgen Klopp. But even when I say, “I’m not, I’m Cheeky Jurgen,” they say, '“Oh, but I still want the photograph,” because they want to send it to their friends to pretend that they've actually met Jurgen. I’ll only take it so far.
Last question: is it coming home?
[Thick “German” accent] The game with the Germans: my heart… my heart said the English boys are going to win it. But my brain said the Germans, we’re going to stuff the English – no penalties, we’re going to stuff them. But luckily, my heart ruled over my head. So now we’re through. So now I can be 100 percent with the English boys, OK. I promise you we are going to win!