LONDON - Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho has said failing to sign Steven Gerrard remains one of his greatest regrets as he urged Blues fans to stop mocking the Liverpool captain.
The two Premier League clubs will clash again when they meet at Anfield on Tuesday in the first leg of a League Cup semi-final, with Gerrard having already announced he will leave Merseyside at the end of this season to join US Major League Football side LA Galaxy.
During his first spell as Chelsea manager, Mourinho was on the verge of bringing midfielder Gerrard to Stamford Bridge in 2005 but the former England captain ultimately decided to stay with his home town club.
His decision arguably cost Gerrard the chance to win the Premier League title, something he has not yet managed in his illustrious career and a feat he is unlikely to achieve this season given Liverpool are currently a huge 17 points behind leaders Chelsea.
"He (Gerrard) is a historical player for Liverpool, a historical player for the Premier League and an opponent I have always admired and respected," Mourinho said.
"We did everything to try (to sign him) and it was almost there. 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 (Roman) Abramovich (Chelsea's owner) and Peter Kenyon (the Blues' then chief executive) at that time, we dreamed of that.
"His people were open to him joining a top side like Chelsea. But to me personally he never said he would come. Never.
"He (Gerrard) was always a Red and I think the decision was right." Mourinho, asked if failing to bring Gerrard to Chelsea was his biggest transfer regret, said: "Yes, but I have another one when I was trying (to bring) Lampard to Inter.
"I was almost there and it didn't happen too. I had a couple of disappointments and that's normal in football."
Gerrard's unfortunate slip against Chelsea at Anfield in last season, which allowed Demba Ba in to score and set up a 2-0 win for Mourinho's side, proved to gave a key bearing on the title race.
Chelsea's victory paved the way for eventual champions Manchester City to take the Premier League title and Gerrard's stumble has become the subject of a cruel taunt chanted by Blues fans at Stamford Bridge.
However, Mourinho urged Chelsea supporters to no longer sing that song, saying Gerrard deserved their respect.
"The song that my fans have I don't like at all," Mourinho said.
"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.
"We have so many other songs, you don't need that one."