Mourinho: I always had respect for Wenger & I hope he doesn't retire

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The Manchester United manager insists he has always respected the Gunners boss, despite their previous clashes

Jose Mourinho has hailed Arsene Wenger after the Arsenal manager announced he will leave the club this summer, and has urged the Frenchman to stay in the game.

The pair have clashed repeatedly throughout their careers, but Mourinho says he has always had respect for Wenger, insisting that their clashes have come about as a result of their mutual admiration for each other.

Indeed, Mourinho has reserved some of his most vicious barbs for the Frenchman, labelling him a "voyeur" and a "specialist in failure", while also squaring up to the Frenchman on the Stamford Bridge touchline. 

However, he has issued a lengthy statement on Wenger's future, insisting he holds him in high esteem, with the two set to clash one last time when Arsenal visit Old Trafford at the end of April.

"If he’s happy I’m happy, if he’s sad, I’m sad, I always wish the best for my opponents. I always wish the best, so for me that’s the point, if he’s happy with the decision he makes and looks forward to the next chapter of his career and his life I’m really happy for him," he told reporters.

"If he’s sad, I’m sad. I’m pretty sure we as a club and especially because Mr Wenger and Arsenal were for many many years the biggest rivals of Sir Alex’s era, I’m pretty sure that we as a club will show Mr Wenger the respect he deserves."

When asked about possible regrets Mourinho may have regarding his conduct towards Wenger, he added: "It’s not about regretting, I think your question is a typical question from somebody that was not in this side, you were not a manager, a player, of course you don’t know the way we respect each other even when sometimes it doesn’t look like we do, players that get yellow cards and red cards by aggressive actions against each other, bad words during the career, the manager is the same thing but the ones that respect each other more are the ones with the problems.

"It’s power and ambition and quality against each other but in the end it’s people from the same business and who respect each others’ careers, so it happened, what matters for me is the way I respect the person, the professional, the career and I always say that for some the memories short, but for us football people, the real football people, who are the ones inside the four lines, playing, or the managers, or the refs, the others live on us, the football people doesn’t have short memory.

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"I know what it means, three Premier League titles and seven FA Cups, what he did in Japan and France, what he brought to French football and what he gave to Arsenal in the period without Premier League, the transition from stadium to stadium, we know what he did.

"If he’s happy with the decision, I’m really happy and I hope he doesn’t retire from football."

Wenger has been linked with the PSG job, thus it remains to be seen if he will drop out of football altogether.