Dudek reveals dust-up between Mourinho and Pedro León
The former Real keeper explains in his autobiography how it all went wrong for Pedro León under the Portuguese coach.
It has been almost six years since José Mourinho appeared in a press conference ahead of a Champions League game against Auxerre and announced to the assembled media: “Pedro León isn’t Maradona.”
“It seems like people are talking about Zidane or Maradona,” the Portuguese said. “A couple of days ago he was playing at Getafe.” The words were explosive, given that León had been signed as a bet for the future due to his quality.
But the midfielder was swiftly forgotten at Real Madrid under Mourinho. In his recently published autobiography, former Real keeper Jerzy Dudek lays out the story behind the erosion of the relationship between player and coach. It unfolded just five games into the season when Real were playing Levante. “Pedro León arrived at Madrid from Getafe for 10 million euros and he thought he was a superstar but he didn’t get into the side from the outset. He was on the bench against Levante and that annoyed him,” Dudek wrote. "We were drawing 0-0 and Mourinho told him to warm up but instead of doing so he just stood around by the corner flag. I was sitting close to Mourinho and saw his reaction. He was furious: ‘Look at his lack of effort. And then he gets offended when he doesn’t play.’”
The game at the Ciutat de Valencia ended 0-0 with León playing half an hour. The midfielder had two chances to score but didn’t hit the target and Mourinho let fly in the dressing room after the game. “You lack professionalism. You think you’re pulling the wool over my eyes and your teammates’. I saw your warm-up, you couldn’t have put less effort in, but I sent you on anyway. You had two clear chances to score but you weren’t up to it. You want to play for Real Madrid? Here everybody gets their five minutes and you’ve had yours.”
The following day during training Mourinho again dressed León down for his attitude, in front of the entire squad. Mourinho was so incensed that he decided to leave León out of the squad to play Auxerre and improvised with Juan Carlos, a youth player who happened to be training with the first team that day.
“The next day we were training ahead of the Auxerre match. Pedro León thought he was going to play but Mourinho called us together in the centre circle and said to him: ‘I’m sorry, but you’re not interested in playing for Real Madrid. Others would give their lives for this shirt, but not you.”
At that moment, Dudek recounts, Mourinho turned around and saw Juan Carlos. “How old are you?” he asked.
“Nineteen,” he replied.
“Do you want to play for Real Madrid? Mourinho continued, receiving a reply in the positive.
“And when I ask you to warm up, will you do it?” Another affirmative. “Ok, you’ll be on the bench on Tuesday.”
Mourinho still had time for one more verbal slap in León’s face: “He looked at Pedro and told him to watch the game at home because he needed players who would die for the team,” concluded Dudek.
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