José Mourinho and Andriy Shevchenko meet in Genoa-Roma tonight and they seem to be on good terms after their tense relationship at Chelsea.
Shevchenko joined Mourinho’s Chelsea from Milan in 2006, but struggled to settle in at Stamford Bridge, scoring just four goals in 30 appearances across all competitions in his first season at the club.
“At Chelsea, he was not my first choice,” Mourinho admitted a few years later.
“I had asked for another player, and I know at the time the club were doing everything to get me the players I wanted, or at least one of them, but it wasn’t possible for various reasons. And when I was offered Shevchenko, I said yes because he is undoubtedly a player of quality.”
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Mourinho mimicked a golf swing when asked the whereabouts of the Milan legend and was furious when Sheva pulled out of the squad for the Champions League semi-final against Liverpool in 2007 due to a muscle injury. Mou was upset as Shevchenko knew he would not start against the Reds.
The former Ukraine striker spent one more season in London with Mourinho sacked in September 2007.
In 2008, Shevchenko returned to Milan on loan and partially blamed Mourinho for his flop in the Premier League.
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“Mourinho was an excellent organiser, attentive to every detail before games,” said Shevchenko at that time.
“From this point of view, he was incredible. But maybe he needed to speak more with his players.
“Chelsea fans never got to see the real Shevchenko. English football is more physical and quicker than Italian football which is more technical.”
However, their relationship seems to have evolved lately. Mourinho wrote the preface to Shevchenko’s biography ‘Forza gentile’ and Shevchenko praised him upon his arrival in Genoa and during his pre-match interviews on Saturday.
“The winning mentality, the charisma and professionalism make him a special coach,” Shevchenko said.
Safe to say, their relationship works more off than on the pitch. Tonight, they’ll meet for the first time on the touchline in Shevchenko’s Serie A debut as a coach.