Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho is sad to be facing “dear enemy” Steven Gerrard for the last time and credits the Liverpool stalwart for making him a better coach.
After 17 memorable years as a professional at Anfield, the Reds captain has just three matches remaining before starting a new chapter in Major League Soccer with Los Angeles Galaxy at the age of 34.
Mourinho is sad to see the former England captain make the move Stateside and is more interested in paying tribute to the midfielder this Sunday than the guard of honour the champions are set to receive.
“Liverpool is Liverpool – it is a giant club,” the Portuguese said.
“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.
“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.”
“I tried to bring him to Chelsea, I tried to bring him to Inter (Milan), I tried to bring him to Real Madrid but he was always a dear enemy,” he said.
“I want to honour him and I hope Stamford Bridge has the same feeling as I have, which is we need people like him as our opponents.”