The Man Who Turned Down Mourinho Thrice
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The Man Who Turned Down Mourinho Thrice

29/03/24 07:21

Jose Mourinho is known as the “Special One” for a reason. He’s won everything there is to one. He’s managed some of the greatest clubs in the world and some of the greatest players in history.

His “troops” are ready to go to war for him. Yet somehow, one solider resisted the call to war from football’s greatest general. And that man is no other than Steven Gerrard.

Gerrard eventually retired as one of the greatest midfielders in Premier League history. There are no doubts about that. He had an excellent career. But, could there have been more for him in the script?

Mourinho called him up 3 different times from 3 of the biggest clubs in the world. 3 times Stevie G said no.

Steven Gerrard lifting the Champions League

The first time was probably when Gerrard came closest to actually leaving Liverpool. He had a shaky relationship with then manager Rafa Benitez and Mourinho had already started testing the waters to see if Gerrard would like to join the super team he was building at Chelsea.

In 2005, Mourinho was already a Champions League winner. Russian Billionaire Roman Abramovic had given him the keys to build a super team at Chelsea. Some of the biggest stars were joining him. And Gerrard was tempted. He shockingly announced his desire to leave

Liverpool, only a few days after winning his boyhood club the Champions League in that shocking night in Istanbul. 25 year old Gerrard was not happy with the direction that the club was heading in and decided to leave the club to join Mourinho at Chelsea. However, he did eventually change his mind.

He was not ready to move on from the club of his dreams yet. Mourinho’s Chelsea went on to become one of the most competitive sides in England at that time whilst Gerrard stayed to steady the ship at his beloved club. However, it was not the last time that Jose Mourinho knocked on his door.

At Inter Milan, The Special One really did build something even more special. He had a special group of players that were willing to die for him on the pitch. He led them to a treble, which included a shocking win against Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona.

Imagine what Gerrard could’ve achieved with them. Mourinho wanted Gerrard once again, at Inter, but Gerrard refused. He wanted to continue at the club of his life. In the modern footballing world, where money is valued above all else, seeing a story like this unfold was truly heartwarming.

At Real Madrid, the biggest club in the World, Mourinho still hadn’t given up on signing the Englishman but the dye was pretty much cast now. Steven Gerrard was Liverpool through and thorough.

Jose Mourinho

This is what Gerrard wrote about the decisions he made, in his autobiography :

“I was thinking, I’d love to play for Jose Mourinho. I was certain that, under Jose, I would win all the trophies I craved. Mourinho, rather than Chelsea, turned my head. He could have got more out of me as a player. And I know he would have brought me success. The decision boiled down to a simple choice: Do I want to win trophies with Chelsea or do I stay loyal to Liverpool?”

Mourinho also spoke about the entire situation in 2015, when he was set to face Gerrard for the last time in his career. He said, “I tried to bring him to Chelsea, I tried to bring him to Inter, I tried to bring him to Real Madrid but he was always a dear enemy. It is my time to honour Steve Gerrard. It is with opponents like him that I am the manager that I am, because I learn with my players and I learn with my best opponents.”

Mourinho also said that he always appreciated the fact that Gerrard always stayed loyal to Liverpool, despite the reds going through some ups and downs during his time there.

Maybe Gerrard didn’t win the coveted league trophy that Liverpool had been craving for, but he did win the hearts of many football fans around the world and in his city. You don’t have to be a Liverpool to see the beautiful side of this story. Football needs more Steven Gerrards.

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