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Exclusive: I’ve never forgiven Mourinho, says O’Neill

By December 18, 2015No Comments
Celtic, Martin O'Neill

Former Celtic boss Martin O’Neill says he’s never forgiven Jose Mourinho for his Porto side’s time-wasting antics in the Uefa Cup final in 2003.

Celtic lost 3-2 after extra-time to the Portuguese outfit in an ill-tempered clash which saw Bobo Balde sent off.

Henrik Larsson’s double forced the match into extra time after cancelling out strikes from Vanderlei Derlei and Deco before Derlei struck the decisive blow.

However, the former Celtic boss’ main angst was the time-wasting tactics adopted by Mourinho and his players.

Asked if he had watched the game again, he told PLZ Soccer. “The answer is no. Funnily enough last summer I was in an Italian hotel and by pure fluke they were showing the game.

“I only saw it from a couple of minutes before extra time set in and that’s the first time I’ve ever seen it.

“Obviously, I’m appalled at the goal we conceded in extra time and Bobo Balde getting sent off.

“I watched it when goalkeeper Vitor Baia goes down and he spent about 12 minutes down there for a sore shin.

“I thought there was going to be a helicopter coming to take him to the nearest hospital in Seville for that ‘severe’ injury he had.

“He had, at least, four doctors looking at him when there was absolutely nothing wrong with him, and that time wasting just galled me more than anything else.

“We got beat in the game and Larsson was fantastic, but we should’ve won.

On Mourinho, who has just been sacked by Chelsea, he added: “He has been successful in his career, he’s been an exceptional manager although I’ve never forgiven him for Porto and 2003, but he will come through [this difficult time] because he’s a splendid manager.”

O’Neill enjoyed much success as Celtic boss winning seven trophies in five years at Parkhead but he concedes he’s unlikely to go back to the Hoops, while losing out on ‘Helicopter Sunday’ to Rangers – as the SPL title went to the final day – still rankles with him.

“If you are asking me about disappointments Seville is up there and the Motherwell game we should have won it by eight and which we didn’t do and it consequently handed the title to Rangers,” he said.

“Yes, it dulled the senses and it knocks you a bit but eventually when I look back at it I had a wonderful time at Celtic and would only change the occasional moment.

“Would I go back to Celtic? I think the torch has passed. Young Lennon took up the cudgels there and did very, very well. Gordon [Strachan] did well and so I always think it’s in capable hands.”