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In an exclusive interview with SPORTbible, Manchester United full-back Luke Shaw has admitted that his "mixed relationship" with former manager Jose Mourinho "wasn't the best" over a two-year spell at Old Trafford.
The 25-year-old England international was publicly singled out on a number of occasions by a ruthless Mourinho.
For example, back in 2017, after omitting him from the Manchester United squad to face West Brom, Mourinho questioned Shaw's professionalism and attitude. "I cannot compare the way he trains [with other contenders for the position], the way he commits, the focus, the ambition. He is a long way behind."
Then two days later, after a clash against Everton, Mourinho took another dig at Shaw by saying he had to change his football brain. "He had a good performance but it was his body with my brain," he said. "He was in front of me and I was making every decision for him."
Those underhanded comments continued throughout his spell as Manchester United manager, and rumours swirled in every transfer window as to whether the left-back would remain at Old Trafford. But the former Southampton man has proved his doubters wrong since.
A revitalised Shaw, who recently lifted the club's Players' Player of the Year award, enjoyed arguably his best season to date during the 2020/21 campaign under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer - a manager he has credited as being the primary reason behind his form.
So looking back, how does Shaw assess his relationship with Jose Mourinho? "It was a mixed relationship," he tells SPORTbible. "A lot of the things that happened between us two, sometimes he went about it in the right way. I think a lot of people will agree with that at the club.
"Our relationship wasn't the best. It was probably quite easy to see that from the outside. But one thing Jose did do was make me mentally much stronger. I think mental strength is what I would describe that period under Jose Mourinho.
"I think I felt part of the team under Ole, whereas under Jose sometimes I didn't. Ole showed his belief and confidence in me. I always believed good times were coming. I stuck in and dug deep; went through a lot but come out better on the other side."
As a result of his impressive form for Manchester United, the left-back was included in Gareth Southgate's 26-man squad for the European Championship. He has thanked the England boss for showing faith in him when times were tough.
"One of my main goals was to get back in the England fold," Shaw added. "I really loved it and wanted to be a part of it. I kept my head down and worked hard and let my football do the talking.
"At the club under Jose, things weren't going well and mentally things weren't going well. I was struggling to get game time, picking up niggly injuries and at the times when I was getting called up and Gareth was showing faith in me, sometimes I pulled out of camps.
"When I think back, I have massive regrets and have thought about it a lot. It is in the past now and I'm focused on showing Gareth the person I am now and what I can bring to his team."
Shaw did not feature in England's European Championship opener against Croatia on Sunday afternoon, with Gareth Southgate instead opting for Kieran Trippier at left-back. But he will be expecting to make an impact in the coming weeks as the Three Lions try and reach the latter stages of the competition.
Luke Shaw wears the Adidas Nemeziz boots available from www.adidas.co.uk/football-shoes.