Jerzy Dudek’s new book ‘A Big Pole In Our Goal’ is currently being serialised by the Mirror and a couple of juicy stories have already emerged.
The Polish goalkeeper revealed that he was once so angry with Rafael Benitez that he wanted to punch the Spanish coach “in the face” - and the 43-year-old has now confirmed that the former Liverpool boss DID want Steven Gerrard to leave Anfield.
Gerrard came close to leaving Liverpool for Chelsea after the club’s 2005 Champions League triumph, but performed a dramatic U-turn and went on to spend another 10 years with his boyhood club.
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Liverpool rejected a £32 million bid from Chelsea at the time - per BBC Sport - but Dudek has revealed that Benitez was keen for the talismanic midfielder to leave the club.
The retired ‘keeper, one of the heroes of that Champions League final in Istanbul 11 years ago, believes Benitez wanted the money that would have been generated by the sale of Gerrard to reinvest in the squad.
Dudek: Rafa wanted Gerrard to leave
“I worked under Jose Mourinho at Real Madrid and while no such thing as an ideal coach exists you’d be close to finding it if you combined his and Rafa’s qualities,” Dudek writes, per the Mirror. “Mourinho had more respect in the dressing room because he was a more personable character who spoke to his players as people.
“It was a different philosophy, but one that helped players to accept his demands in training more than they did from Benitez.
“Most of the lads didn’t like it and Stevie was one of them.
“I knew he had some issues with Rafa and twice it looked like he might leave Liverpool for Chelsea.
“Rafa wanted him to leave – I think he thought he could buy three or four players with the money – but, deep down, Stevie didn’t want to go.”
Dudek: Gerrard wanted Mourinho after Rafa
Dudek believes the relationship between Benitez and Gerrard never truly recovered from that summer’s events - and has revealed that the ex-Liverpool captain was hoping Jose Mourinho would come to Anfield once Rafa departed.
“I know that the relationship between Stevie and Rafa was never the same afterwards and because Benitez had played games with me regarding a potential transfer I was on Stevie’s side, even if I decided not to say anything publicly,” Dudek adds.
“Stevie once said to me that it would have been great if Mourinho could have taken over at Anfield when Rafa left.
“I think it was after my leaving, when I came to Liverpool as a Real Madrid player in the Champions League. I remember those words well, even if it was just a casual conversation.
“I think Liverpool could have improved under Mourinho. Stevie and Jose had a mutual respect.
“It’s a pity that Stevie didn’t come to Real.
“In my opinion, that move would have extended his career at the top level for at least two years and he would have learned even more by playing for Mourinho.”
Gerrard will always be a Liverpool legend
By staying with Liverpool, Gerrard ensured that he will always be remembered with great affection by the Anfield faithful, who still sing his name proudly during matches today.
While it’s possible he would have won more silverware by joining Chelsea or Real Madrid, having the lifelong respect of the Liverpool fans will ultimately mean more to the Whiston-born midfielder.
Should Steven Gerrard have left Liverpool in the summer of 2005? Have your say by leaving a comment below.