After nearly 17 years at Liverpool, Steven Gerrard was approaching his final game at Anfield, but before the big occasion, he had one last outing to Stamford Bridge.
Gerrard has been mocked by Chelsea fans plenty of times after his slip against the London side cost Liverpool a shot at the title. And for the majority of this game, things were no different to usual. Signs were scattered around the crowd, and songs were aimed at the Liverpool midfielder, reminding him of his biggest mistake.
But when Gerrard finally left the pitch, even the Chelsea fans understood that it was the last time they would get the opportunity to see the legendary midfielder live in the flesh.
Despite the rivalry, there was clearly respect for the player amongst the Blues fans, although it usually remained hidden behind the banter.
The fans, players and staff at Stamford Bridge gave the midfielder a standing ovation as he left the pitch, including then-Chelsea manager Mourinho.
After the match, Mourinho was asked about the applause the Liverpool icon received from the Chelsea fanbase.
Mourinho told the interviewer: “I think Stamford Bridge was fantastic because the negative song is the song that shows exactly what the ‘dear enemy’ concept means.
“In the end, to get an ovation at Stamford Bridge is special for him and shows exactly what I’m saying, we have lots of respect for the top guys.”
Mourinho was then asked whether he would miss Gerrard and offered a classy response: “I will miss him yes, I want my league to be always the best league. I want my league to have always the best players, I saw the end of amazing players and I was always hurt by that.
He added: “Steven is leaving, Frank Lampard is leaving, Carragher… Also a fantastic enemy.
“This is mother nature and we can’t stop it, but we can get great memories of our great opponents.”
But Gerrard seemed less impressed and tried to downplay the significance of the standing ovation he received from Chelsea fans.
The midfielder explained: “I was more happy with the ovation from the Liverpool fans.
“Chelsea fans have had respect for a couple of seconds today but have slaughtered me all game.
“I’m not going to get drawn into wishing Chelsea fans well. It was nice of them to turn up for once today.”
Gerrard added: “It was a nice touch. I know they’ve absolutely murdered me for years because I never signed here. I’ve had great support from the Liverpool fans – that’s all that matters to me.”
However Gerrard did reciprocate the respect he was shown by Mourinho when asked about the Chelsea manager: “I have huge respect for him. He’s the best manager in the world. I would have signed for him on three occasions if I wasn’t such a big Liverpool fan.
“He’s the reason my head was turned on a couple of occasions but he knew why I couldn’t do it, because I love Liverpool Football Club. It always means more when you win for your people.”
And that statement shows exactly why Gerrard was adored by Liverpool fans, and still is to this day.