Chris Smalling has seemingly taken a swipe at his former Roma boss Jose Mourinho and denied claims he was reluctant to play through the pain barrier.
The 60-year-old former Chelsea, United and Tottenham boss was sacked by the Giallorossi earlier this week following a miserable run of results which has left Roma languishing in mid-table in Serie A
The pair were then reunited at the Olympic Stadium and worked well together before Smalling suffered a knee injury that has seen him sidelined for almost five months.
Mourinho had claimed Smalling ‘holds something back’ and that there are people ‘who aren’t high-performance athletes who have a greater pain threshold’. He also added ‘maybe I can sleep fine with toothache, maybe you struggle’.
But following Mourinho’s exit, former England international Smalling has now decided to set their record straight on his injury issues and the fact that he has never looked to quit the club.
“Let me start by clarifying that I have never asked to, nor even contemplated, leaving this great club,” Smalling wrote on Instagram.
“No footballer wants to spend their days in a treatment room, and this period of time away from my teammates has challenged me, with setback after setback.
“I have, and will always, put the needs of my teammates first, but the absolute priority for the medical team is to guarantee that I can play a significant role in the latter part of the season and for seasons to come.’
He added: “Guided only by specialists, I have been open to all solutions, short and long, and any insinuation that I have dictated a treatment plan are false.
“With surgery not an option proposed by any specialist I have engaged with, I have to trust the expertise that guides my recovery plan which, contrary to popular belief, does include painkillers. A lot of them, in fact.”
De Rossi takes up Roma role
Mourinho has since been replaced by club legend Daniele De Rossi in the role, and the former midfielder is relishing the opportunity to show what he can do.
The 40-year-old said: “I would like to thank the Friedkin family for entrusting me with the responsibility of Roma’s head coach role.
“From my side, I know no other way but dedication, daily sacrifices, and giving everything I have in order to face the challenges that await us from now until the end of the season.
“The excitement of being able to sit on our bench is indescribable. Everyone knows what Roma means to me. However, the work that awaits us all has already taken precedence.
“We have no time or choice but to be competitive, fight for our goals, and try to achieve them, which are the only priorities my staff and I have set for ourselves.”