The former Blues midfielder says the Portuguese never lost it in the dressing room in his first stint at Stamford Bridge, which ended in September 2007.
Jose Mourinho’s shock departure from Chelsea in September 2007 left the likes of Didier Drogba, John Terry and Frank Lampard “crying on the floor”, says Steve Sidwell.
A Portuguese tactician had helped to lift the Blues to the very top of the English game during an preliminary stint in the Stamford Bridge dugout.
Having been lured away from Porto in the summer of 2004, Mourinho delivered two Premier League titles, an FA Cup triumph and two League Cup wins in west London.
He was then unceremoniously ushered through the exits, with Sidwell adamant that the current Tottenham boss – who returned to Chelsea in 2013 – had not lost the dressing room and left many of his senior stars devastated by moving on.
The former Blues midfielder, who was signed through Mourinho a matter of months before his departure, told The Athletic: “I never felt that anxiety or concept he was in trouble.
“There had been a few games before, you could see things in the press and it honestly bubbled up. But you didn’t feel it on the inside. The players had been all united, no one was turning in opposition to him, he hadn’t lost the dressing room.
“The day he went, I was driving my spouse to the airport and the information came on the radio. I just thought, ‘Sh*t, he is gone. What’s going to happen?’ We were then all called into a meeting at Cobham.
“It was awkward when Jose came to say his goodbyes. You could have heard a pin drop. It felt like someone had died. When you see robust characters like Didier Drogba, Frank Lampard and John Terry both crying on the floor or certainly welling up… I got upset as well. It was clearly weird.”
Sidwell took in just 25 appearances for Chelsea throughout a one-season stay and admits the whole ride was rather bizarre.
As a boyhood Blue, he was extremely joyful to be offered the chance to head for Stamford Bridge, however confronted fierce opposition for places and was rather surprisingly handed the No.9 shirt upon his arrival.
He added on that call: “Mourinho was sitting there at the the front and he says, ‘Steve, you’re going to put on No. 9 this year.’
“Every player who joins a new club looks at the numbers available and I’d seen the numbers 9, 14 and others that went upwards from there. I just assumed I might also get the No. 14 at a push.
“I didn’t know whether or not he was just testing me. If I said, ‘No thanks’ it would appear like I had a weakness in my mentality. If I say ‘Yes’, it may have been that he was only joking. But I thought at least I’d then show him I had the balls to wear it. So I said ‘Yes’ and it turned out he was being serious.
“When I told people, my mates and family, every body was just laughing. Obviously the number has a lot of records relating to top centre-forwards and that wasn’t me. I went on to score one goal for Chelsea.
“Looking again on why he might also have made that choice now, I think he was sending a statement upstairs, to the board.
“That summer he had wanted more cash to spend on transfers – however he’s brought in me, Tal Ben Haim and Claudio Pizarro on free transfers. The only big purchase was Florent Malouda. Why didn’t he give Pizarro – a striker – the No. 9? I reckon he was making a point by giving it to a free transfer from Reading.”