Nemanja Matic has revealed the moment he was substituted by Jose Mourinho during last season’s defeat against Southampton represented the worst moment of his career.
The Serbia international had been sent on at the start of the second half with the score level at 1-1, but his involvement in the game lasted little more than 20 minutes with Mourinho opting to send him back to the bench shortly after Southampton had taken the lead.
The Saints went on to record a memorable 3-1 victory, a result which marked the nadir for Mourinho at Chelsea and Matic, himself.
‘How did I feel? Terrible,’ he said. ‘I am a man first of all and of course I felt bad. But I didn’t react, I stayed professional. I respect this club, this shirt I wear every week, and that is why I didn’t react.
‘Inside it hurt, of course. Some players react and cause some problems but I didn’t. It was very hard. You have to play football to see how it feels.
‘Of course it is not the worst thing that can happen to you. It was a football match. You have to cope with things like that, be professional, respect the team. The worst is when you are injured.
‘I knew I did the right thing when I sat on the bench. I am proud that I didn’t react.’
The Special One lasted just a month longer in the Stamford Bridge hot seat, while Matic has since re-established himself as a key member of new manager Antonio Conte’s revamped side.
‘We have improved as a team. Every day we work on what the coach wants from us and day by day, we are better and better. Individually, everyone is one step better than before.’