peace offering

Wenger 'surprised' to watch Mourinho describe him as one of the best managers in history

Jose Mourinho waxed lyrical about his rival in a video played as Wenger collected a lifetime achievement award.

ARSENE WENGER ADMITS he was surprised to hear Jose Mourinho describe him as “one of the best football managers in the history of football” in a tribute video played while the Frenchman was receiving a Lifetime Achievement award at Laureus World Sports Awards on Monday.

The pair have clashed in the past while they were both in Premier League management, with Mourinho branding the Frenchman a “specialist in failure”.

Wenger also pushed Mourinho during the Portuguese’s second stint in charge of Chelsea before he went on to manage Manchester United.

Both men are now enjoying some time out of the sport which has allowed for the adrenaline to settle, leading Mourinho to credit the Frenchman’s achievements despite his previous comments.

The 56-year-old had nothing but nice words to say about his former rival and claimed he was one of the best managers in the game.

“There were some episodes along the road,” Mourinho said in a recorded message at Monday night’s awards ceremony.

I can only speak by myself. I really enjoyed the competition. But the real respect is always there. He made lots of history in that football club.

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

GES / Sports General / Laureus World Sports Awards 2019 18.02.2019 #6010003# Wenger poses with his Laureus Lifetime Achievement Award. #6010003#

Asked what was the bigger surprise between winning the lifetime achievement award or “Jose Mourinho finally saying something nice about you”, a grinning Wenger replied:

“It was a surprise, yes, because we had some good fights. Time appeases it always.

The surpsise that I got the award was even bigger. Usually, lifetime achievement is for Pele or Maradona or Beckenbauer, and tonight it’s a little player from a village.

“I represent coaches, and it’s good as well that coaches are rewarded in our game.”

Wenger guided Arsenal to a sixth-place finish last season, which was their worst Premier League result since they finished 12th in 1995.

However, the Frenchman was recognised for his award due to his commitment and success with Arsenal over a 22-year period where he won three Premier League titles and seven FA Cups.

The 69-year-old also helped Arsenal to the Champions League final in 2006, which they eventually lost to Barcelona.

Wenger only left the club in the summer of 2018 with Unai Emery coming in to replace him at the Emirates, but he is yet to take on another managerial job.

Soccer - Barclays Premier League - Chelsea v Arsenal - Stamford Bridge PA Archive / PA Images Wenger and Mourinho endured a fractious relationship while both were Premier League managers. PA Archive / PA Images / PA Images

Mourinho also paid tribute to the Frenchman’s ability to guide his Arsenal side to an undefeated season back in 2003/04

“The nickname is there – The Invincibles,” he added. “Amazing. A coaching philosophy, the almost perfect team.”

This season, the Gunners are currently fifth in the Premier League, just a single point behind fourth-place Manchester United.

The north London club’s next game is against Southampton on Sunday in the league before a home clash against Bournemouth on 27 February.

- Omni

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