As far as Jose Mourinho is concerned, Steven Gerrard is the one that got away.
Mourinho reflected on Chelsea’s failed pursuit of Gerrard in 2005 on Monday, calling it nothing less than a dream deferred. Mourinho wanted Gerrard in Chelsea’s midfield during his first stint as manager, but Gerrard’s loyalty to Liverpool was too strong to allow him to play against his boyhood club.
Mourinho praised Gerrard for his commitment to Liverpool at his press conference ahead of Tuesday’s Capital One Cup (Football League Cup) semifinal first leg between the Reds and Blues.
“We did everything to try (to sign him) and it was almost there,” Mourinho said, according to the BBC. “I was dreaming of Claude Makelele, Gerrard and Frank Lampard in midfield.”
“We were playing in a proper triangle without a number 10 and playing Maka in front of the defenders. Me, Mr. Abramovich and (former Chelsea CEO) Peter Kenyon at that time, we dreamed of that.
“His people were open to him joining a top side like Chelsea. But to me personally he never said he would come. Never.”
Chelsea first tried to sign Gerrard in 2004, but Liverpool rejected its initial approach. The Blues returned a year later with a £32 million ($48 million) transfer bid for the Liverpool captain. Gerrard seemed ready to move south and submitted a transfer request, but he withdrew it and instead signed a new contract with Liverpool.
As much as Mourinho would have liked to add Gerrard — one of the Premier League’s all-time greats — to an already strong Chelsea team, he accepts that it wasn’t meant to be.
“I love this quote when he was saying in his life he would never score a goal against Liverpool,” Mourinho said. “I love these words.
“I understand why he was — almost, almost, almost — coming to Chelsea. But he didn’t, and I respect that a lot.”
Gerrard will leave Liverpool this summer, ending a 17-year career in the Reds’ first team. Gerrard will take his talents to Major League Soccer’s Los Angeles Galaxy in July, and the chances of him playing competitively against Liverpool or Mourinho are remote, at best.
Thumbnail photo via Twitter/@empireofthekop