Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho has admitted he still regrets missing the chance to sign Liverpool legend Steven Gerrard back in 2005 during his first tenure at Stamford Bridge.
The Portuguese boss deployed a 4-3-3 formation, rather than the current 4-2-3-1, during his first spell at the west London club and wanted to partner the Liverpool captain alongside his England international teammate Frank Lampard, with Claude Makelele as a holder in the midfield.
"We did everything to try [to sign him] and it was almost there," Mourinho said.
"I was dreaming of Claude Makelele, Gerrard and Frank Lampard in midfield. We were playing in a proper triangle without a number 10 and playing Maka in front of the defenders. Me, Mr Abramovich and [former Chelsea chief executive] Peter Kenyon at that time, we dreamed of that."
But Mourinho revealed that even though Gerrard's representatives looked open to a Stamford Bridge move, the player rejected the chance and decided to stay at Merseyside – as he also did when Spanish giants Real Madrid twice tried to lure him to La Liga.
"His people were open to him joining a top side like Chelsea. But to me personally, he never said he would come. Never," the boss added.
"He [Gerrard] was always a Red and I think the decision was right."
Liverpool face the Blues at Anfield on Tuesday 20 January in the first leg of the Capital One Cup semi-final. Last season, Gerrard's slip against Chelsea seriously dented the chances of the Reds winning the Premier League.
Mourinho has urged his fans to show respect to the Liverpool captain and not to mock him.
"The song that my fans have I don't like at all. A couple of times it is good fun but to go and go and go, especially with a player like him who deserves respect, I don't think you don't need that," he said.
"We have so many other songs, you don't need that one. I love this quote when he was saying in his life he would never score a goal against Liverpool. I love these words.
"I understand why he was - almost, almost, almost - coming to Chelsea. But he didn't and I respect that a lot."