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Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho has lavished praise on Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard, as he faces up to the Anfield legend for the last time this weekend.
After 17 memorable years as a professional at Liverpool, the Reds captain has just three matches remaining before starting a new chapter in MLS with LA Galaxy.
Mourinho is sad to see the former England captain make the move across the Atlantic and is more interested in paying tribute to the 34-year-old midfielder this Sunday than the guard of honour the champions are set to receive at Anfield.
Liverpool – it is a giant club. If they want to do that [form a guard of honour], obviously my players are going to accept that with respect.
But speaking about Liverpool and speaking about honouring the champions, this is my time to honour a champion. It is my time to honour Steve Gerrard.
Mourinho then went on to claim Gerrard helped make him the coach he is today – having studied him intently whilst manager of Chelsea, Inter & Real Madrid.
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.
I learn with my players’ problems, my players’ doubts, my players’ qualities and I learn with my best opponent, with the problems they give me – the way they make me think, the way they make me analyse them and studying the best way to play against them.
Mourinho spoke in the pre-match press conference about the battles he has had over the years with Gerrard – someone he has tried to sign on more than one occasion.
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.
Steven Gerrard is for sure one of my favourite enemies – an enemy with all the good feeling I can express with that word in football. For sure, in England he is my dear enemy.
For sure, he is the one that made me a better manager. To stop him or try and stop him has been very, very difficult.