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Arsene Wenger and Jose Mourinho are pictured on the touchline during a United v Arsenal game at Old Trafford

Mourinho hopes Wenger stays in football

Jose Mourinho has spoken of his respect for Arsene Wenger and hopes his old rival stays in football when he leaves Arsenal at the end of the season.

Wenger announced on Friday that he would be ending his 22-year spell in charge of the Gunners at the end of the current campaign, prompting a flood of tributes from his fellow managers.

At the start of his press conference to preview Manchester United’s Emirates FA Cup semi-final against Tottenham Hotspur, Mourinho gave his reaction to the news.

Sir Alex: My tribute to Arsene Wenger article

Our legendary former manager has paid a heartfelt tribute to his old adversary at Arsenal.

“I always wish the best for my opponents,” Jose said. “If he's happy with the decision he made, if he looks forward to the next chapter of his career in his life, I'm really happy for him. If he's sad, I'm sad. 

“Arsenal were, for many many, years, the biggest rivals of Sir Alex's era, if you can say that. And I'm pretty sure that we as a club we'll show Mr Wenger the respect that he deserves.

“I know what it means: three Premier League titles, seven FA Cups and not just that; what he did in Japan, in France, what he brought to French football, what he gave to Arsenal, even in the period without Premier Leagues, all the transition of the club, from stadium to stadium, everything he did.

“So again, if he's happy with the decision, I'm really happy and I hope he doesn't retire from football.”

Jose Mourinho says

"If Arsene is happy with the decision he made, if he looks forward to the next chapter of his career in his life, then I'm really happy for him. If he's sad, then I'm sad."

Mourinho has crossed swords with Wenger numerous times with Chelsea and United, and gave an impassioned response when asked if he regretted any of the “past incidents” between the pair.

“It's not about regretting,” Jose replied. I think your question is typical from somebody that was not on this side. You were not a manager, you were not a player, you don't know the way we respect each other, even when sometimes it looks like in some moments we don't. 

“Players who get yellow or red cards by aggression, actions against each other, bad words during their career – a manager is the same thing. In the end, the ones that respect each other more are probably the ones that have the problems. 

Arsene Wenger and Jose Mourinho on the touchline during a game between Arsenal and Chelsea in 2005
Jose Mourinho first locked horns with Arsene Wenger in 2004/05

“It's power against power, it's quality against quality, it's ambition against ambition, but in the end it's people from the same business, it's people that respect each other and respect each other's careers, so it's not about regretting.

“It happened – what matters for me is the way I respect the person, I respect the professional and their career. I always say that, for some, the memory is short, but real football people don't have a short memory and I don't have a short memory.”