Graeme Souness has finally made a public apology to Liverpool star James Milner, who he delivered a stinging comment about 18 years ago.
Souness claimed “you won’t win the league with James Milners” when the midfielder moved to Newcastle as a 19-year-old, and as the pundit explained in his Daily Mail column, the now 37-year-old, who will swap Liverpool for Brighton at the end of the season, has more than proved him wrong.
‘I was discussing leadership with Simon Jordan. James Milner was one of those I named as a leader I would want in my dressing room. At Newcastle, I knew him as a young boy,’ Souness wrote in his column.
‘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.’
While it has taken Souness nearly two decades to publicly apologise to Milner for his comments, the midfielder opened up about the incident in a 2018 interview, revealing he held no grudge.
“I think it was more like, ‘You don’t win anything with a team of James Milners’. 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,” he said.
“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.”