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Graeme Souness has finally given an apology to James Milner, 18 years after claiming that a team of James Milners wouldn’t win the Premier League. Souness coached a teenage Milner during their time together at Newcastle, though sent the now-Liverpool hero on loan to Aston Villa after deciding against using him in the Magpies’ team.
Souness had been in charge of Newcastle for a year and rarely used Milner, before then sending him out on loan and in an attempt to defend his decisions took what was perceived to have been a dig at Milner. However, the midfielder has since gone on to win the Premier League on three occasions in addition to lifting the Champions League with Liverpool and Souness has taken the time to apologise for his comments 18 years ago.
“I was discussing leadership with Simon Jordan this week, and James Milner was one of those I named as a leader I would want in my dressing room,” Souness wrote in the Daily Mail. “At Newcastle, I knew him as a young boy and he has matured into a professional you can bet is a ten out of ten around the dressing room.
“He was upset with me many years ago at Newcastle when I said that ‘you won’t win the league with James Milners’ and he took that as me saying he wasn’t good enough. I was trying to say that you needed men. He was only 19 at the time. I apologised to him for that and I hope he’s forgiven me. You can never have enough James Milners in the dressing room. He makes other players turn up.”
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Milner has seemingly already forgiven Souness for the claim, which he understands was misconstrued at the time and now insists that there is “no beef” between the pair. Speaking to FourFourTwo in 2018, Milner said: “I think it was more like, ‘You don’t win anything with a team of James Milners’. Yeah, it did, reading it as a young lad. But he apologised, said he’d got misquoted and that he didn’t mean it.
“Newcastle was tough – the manager who’d signed me, Bobby Robson, got sacked three games into the season, so a new manager arrived and I ended up going on loan again, to Aston Villa.
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“I think the first time I finished a season with the same manager who started it was Martin O’Neill at Villa, probably five seasons into my career. When someone has an opinion, even if it ends up misquoted, people jump on it. But as a player you love the chance to shut people up.
“Any time that you’re criticised, it drives you on and you try to prove people wrong. That’s what I did in that part of my career. But I get on with Graeme – there’s no beef.
“When I won the Premier League title at Manchester City, he was covering the game and he came over to congratulate me.”
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