Peace at last between 'Special One' and Wenger

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

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MONACO, Principality of Monaco (AFP) — Arsene Wenger received the Laureus Lifetime Achievement Award on Monday, but it was the glowing tribute from the unlikeliest of sources, Jose Mourinho, that caught the eye.

The 69-year-old Wenger won the award on the back of his revolutionising English football, especially in the first part of his over two decades

The veteran former Gunners boss and Mourinho clashed often, on and off the touchline.

However, Mourinho — sacked by Manchester United in December — paid handsome tribute to Wenger via a video.

The volatile Portuguese, who had two spells at Chelsea and then the turbulent one at United, acknowledged there had been moments when they had been at odds with each other.

It boiled over when Wenger pushed Mourinho on the touchline during the latter's second period in charge of Chelsea, and Mourinho made some barbed remarks about the studious Frenchman, commenting he was a “voyeur” and a “specialist in failure”.

“There were some episodes along the road,” said Mourinho.

“I can only speak by myself. I really enjoyed the competition. But the real respect is always there.

“He (Wenger) made lots of history in that football club.

“One of the best football managers in the history of football.”

Wenger, who was virtually unknown but proved an inspirational choice by then Arsenal Vice-Chairman David Dein when he was hired in 1996, accrued, among other trophies, three Premier League titles and lifted the FA Cup seven times.

However, perhaps his greatest achievement was the title-winning side of the 2003/04 campaign who went through the league season unbeaten.

“The nickname is there — The Invincibles,” said Mourinho.

“Amazing. A coaching philosophy; the almost — perfect team.”

Wenger, who has been linked with several jobs since leaving Arsenal at the end of last season, including the director of football post at Paris Saint-Germain, admitted he had been taken aback when he watched the video at the awards ceremony.

“That is a very good question,” he replied as to what was the biggest surprise, the award or Mourinho praising him.

“It was a surprise, yes. We had some good fights at times.”

Laureus is a global movement that aims to use the power of sport to tackle social challenges in the world.

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