Chris Smalling has admitted he was ‘surprised’ and ‘excited’ by Jose Mourinho’s appointment as Roma manager – despite the pair’s uneasy relationship at Manchester United.
The former Chelsea, Manchester United and Tottenham head coach was appointed by Roma back in May, and was officially unveiled last week.
He replaced Paulo Fonseca at the Stadio Olimpico, with Roma’s ambitious new owner, billionaire US film director and producer Dan Friedkinpledgint pledging to make the club ‘one of the greatest names in world football’.
Smalling made 100 appearances for United during Mourinho’s two-and-a-half years at Old Trafford, but the pair had a disagreement over the defender’s willingness to play through pain.
However, the 31-year-old insisted there is no bad blood between him and Mourinho.
“Ultimately, if the manager wasn’t speaking about you and didn’t want you to play and push, that is when you need to worry because he has stopped caring about you, he doesn’t want you involved and he doesn’t want you to play,” he told BBC Sport,.
“He is a born winner. He likes to push everyone to the limits. That is what he has done throughout his career and it has reaped results.”
“It was quite a surprise to a lot of us, but there was initial excitement from everyone,” added Smalling of the Special One’s appointment.
“I knew the media would build up something about our relationship in the past. But from a personal point of view, it is a good thing because I have played under him.
“We have won trophies together. He made me captain in one of those finals – the 2017 EFL Cup final – as well, so having the chance to play under someone who you know is good, has been so successful and is so determined to win trophies at all costs is a positive.
“I know how big a deal it would be to bring a trophy of some sort to the club.
“Jose’s history shows the club has picked the perfect man to do that.”