Jose Mourinho has revealed that he tried to sign Steven Gerrard on three separate occasions in his career - and failed each time.
Gerrard is calling time on his Premier League career with Liverpool at the end of the season to head to MLS franchise LA Galaxy having spent his entire career with his hometown club.
Speaking ahead of Liverpool's showdown against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, Mourinho paid tribute to the 34-year-old and revealed that not only did he try and persuade Gerrard to join Chelsea not long after Liverpool won the Champions League in 2005, but also while he was in charge of Inter Milan and Real Madrid.
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He said: "I am sad he is leaving the same as our Frank Lampard, but Frank is a Chelsea legend and it's a different situation because Steven was always on the other side. 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 with the enemy.
"I want to honour him and I hope Stamford Bridge has the same feeling. It's too late to sign him. He can't play against Liverpool. He's done an amazing career with his people. He refused to play in other big clubs, other big leagues to play only for Liverpool and this is a feeling that stays together. Who knows I play against Steven as a Liverpool manager someday."
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Gerrard will leave Liverpool having won the FA Cup twice and the Champions League, however he failed to claim a Premier League winners medal. His best chance came last year as Liverpool finished runners-up to Manchester City, however Mourinho insists he is still a champion.
It is my time to honour the champion,' said Mourinho. 'It's my time to honour Steve Gerrard and say with opponents like him that I am the manager I am. I learn with my players and my best opponents.
'With my players' doubts and qualities and with my best opponents with the problems they give me and way they make me think and analyse them and study how to play against them.
'Steven Gerrard is for sure one of my favourite enemies and for sure my dear enemy, the one who made me a better manager.
Although he never won a Premier League medal, there's no doubt that Steven Gerrard is leaving as one of the best to have played the game.
Of late there's been a certain amount of revisionism surrounding his career in the context of the last few months but anyone who saw him in his prime will know he was perhaps the ultimate game-changer.