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Mourinho: "Steven Gerrard is One of My Favourite Enemies"

Keep your friends close and your enemies closer seems to be the modus operandi of Jose Mourinho when it comes to Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard.

Ben Radford/Getty Images

There are few things sadder for a sports fan than saying goodbye to a beloved player as he embarks on a new journey, be it retirement or a movement to another team. But fans aren't the only ones who feel sadness over such departures, and sometimes it can be rival players and managers feeling the bitter sting of facing a particular opponent for the final time.

"Steven Gerrard is for sure one of my favourite enemies - an enemy with all the good feeling I can express with that word in football," said Jose Mourinho ahead of Liverpool's visit to Stamford Bridge on Sunday. "For sure, in England he is my dear enemy. For sure, he is the one that made me a better manager. To stop him or try and stop him has been very, very difficult.

"I tried to bring him to Chelsea, I tried to bring him to Inter (Milan), I tried to bring him to Real Madrid but he was always a dear enemy. I want to honour him and I hope Stamford Bridge has the same feeling as I have, which is we need people like him as our opponents."

It's unlikely that the rest of Stamford Bridge has the same feelings towards Gerrard as Mourinho, at least not the "dear" part of "dear enemy." As far as managerial accolades go, though, Gerrard could certainly do worse than such glowing affections — or possibly mind games — from The Special One.

"I am very happy that he didn't (leave Liverpool)," Mourinho continued. "In the end I think he had an amazing career and (such) an amazing feeling with his people that he refused to play for other big clubs - he refused to play in other big leagues to play only for Liverpool. I think this is a feeling that stays forever. Who knows, (maybe) I will play against Steven as a Liverpool manager one day."

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