Former Liverpool goalkeeper Jerzy Dudek recently released a new memoir of his time between the sticks. A Big Pole In Our Goal recalls his career from the early days in Poland to his big-time move to Feyenoord, then to Liverpool for six memorable years, and finally to his swan song as Iker Casillas’ understudy at Real Madrid.
Ahead of José Mourinho’s return to Anfield as Manchester United boss, the Echo published quotes from Dudek’s book detailing a juicy anedocte involving Mourinho. In the referenced excerpt, Dudek discussed his role in one of Mourinho’s most notorious dirty tricks— his order to Xabi Alonso and Sergio Ramos to get themselves intentionally sent off.
“During a Champions League group game against Ajax in Amsterdam I was asked by Chendo, a former Real player who became an executive, to sit next to Mourinho on the bench during the second half. We were 2-0 up, through to the next round and still had one game to play. Mourinho told me that if Xabi Alonso and Sergio Ramos, who had been booked, got themselves sent off they would miss the final meaningless group game against Auxerre and have no suspensions hanging over them going into the knockout phase. He asked me to run down to Iker and pass on the instruction of what they needed to do. I nodded and jogged down the touchline with a bottle of water to pass to Casillas. ‘Iker, the boss said tell Xabi and Sergio to get another booking so they miss the next game.’ I jogged back to the bench and noticed that Iker was whispering in Sergio’s ear. He then ran over to Xabi. In the 87th minute, with the score at 4-0, Xabi was given a second yellow card for time wasting. Sergio was also given a second booking for time wasting in stoppage time.”
As it turns out, UEFA officials aren’t completely stupid, and they sensed that something fishy was going on. They investigated the matter, successfully uncovered what happened, and handed out punishment.
“The UEFA disciplinary committee didn’t believe me. I was fined €5,000, Iker was fined €10,000 and Xabi and Sergio both received €20,000 fines. Mourinho was fined €40,000 and given a two-match ban, although this was reduced on appeal, and the club received a €120,000 fine. I started joking in the dressing room: ‘I won’t pay it for sure! It was the masseur’s fault that he didn’t give a bottle of water to Iker. And it’s your fault too doc, as you didn’t check whether he felt well. I am not going to do your jobs for you!’ More importantly though, Xabi and Sergio were free to play in the knock-out stage and carried no yellow cards over. Mourinho’s tactics had worked and, to be honest, I really admired him for that plan.”
Of course, none of this is new, and unless you’ve only very recently discovered European football you won’t be remotely surprised at Mourinho’s supervillain schemes. But it’s worth keeping in mind how single-mindedly committed Mou is to gain any advantage he can ahead of Monday’s blockbuster clash with United.