Jose Mourinho suggested he might not have left Inter for Real Madrid had he travelled back with the Nerazzurri following their Champions League triumph at the Santiago Bernabeu.
Mourinho guided Inter to the treble in the 2009-10 season, making them the first Italian team to achieve the feat.
It was completed with a 2-0 win over Bayern Munich at the home of Madrid, with whom Mourinho had an agreement in place to take over as their new coach.
Following Inter's celebrations in the stadium, Mourinho did not immediately make the journey back to Milan and, in an interview with The Athletic, explained his reasons for that decision.
Mourinho, who shared a tearful embrace with defender Marco Materazzi before the team left the Bernabeu, said: "When I had these last words with him [Materazzi], it was like I was hugging every player which is something I tried not to do.
"I was on the pitch with them in the celebrations, in the medals, in the cup. I was with them but then I didn't go back to the dressing room because I didn't want to say goodbye.
"It was too hard for me and I didn't want to leave with them to Milan because people were saying I had a contract with Real Madrid. It was not true. I had an agreement, but I did not have a contract signed.
"I really wanted to go to Real Madrid at that time. I really wanted to try to win the Spanish league after the English and Italian leagues. But I feared that if I go back to Milan with the team and, with the reaction of the players and the fans, I was afraid of not being able to leave. I can say that I ran away. I ran away from them.
"A few days later, I signed with Real Madrid and then I could go back to Milan and I could meet the president and have dinner with [owner Massimo] Moratti and his family."
Mourinho's Inter overcame Barcelona in the semi-final, surviving 72 minutes with 10 men in the second leg at Camp Nou after Thiago Motta was sent off.
Inter lost 1-0 but claimed a 3-2 aggregate victory, with Mourinho sprinting across the pitch to celebrate at full-time.
Barcelona goalkeeper Victor Valdes reacted angrily to the celebrations, but Mourinho - despite a heated rivalry with Barca during his time at Madrid - bears the Blaugrana no ill will.
"The game finished, everybody reacted in different ways. We had people crying. We had people on their knees. We had people completely exhausted on the floor," he added.
"We had people running around and I ran to our supporters because I know how much it meant to them.
"Then, when we were enjoying [ourselves], they [Barcelona] didn't react in the best way which doesn't reflect the dimension of the club, a club where I was so happy in the period I worked there, a club that I know is a super-class club.
"But sometimes when we are disappointed we can have these emotional reactions. It's no problem at all, though, just a nice memory"