The self proclaimed “Special One”, Jose Mourinho, truly has become one of the greatest managers to ever enter the game. Always one for limelight and controversial comments, the Portuguese coach has enjoyed a career of grand success. His latest stop, Real Madrid, has turned out to be his largest challenge, but as the club looks set to win their first La Liga since 2008, perhaps he has once again proved his worth at a new club.
Mourinho has always found ways to express his manic ego. As a youngster, he was enrolled in a business school by his mother, but he quit after only one day. At his first head managerial role for Benfica in 2000, he demanded a contract extension after just 9 games. His request was denied, and he subsequently resigned from the post.
Things weren’t all negative for the young Mourinho though. He developed a great working relationship with Sir Bobby Robson. When the English manager took his trade to Portugal, Mourinho became his translating assistant. This relationship took Mourinho to Lisbon, Porto, and Barcelona, where his role grew to a prominent assistant manager position.
Mourinho continued at Barcelona after Robson departed, coaching mostly the B team but occasionally the first squad for matches in lesser tournaments, such as the Copa Catalunya which he won in 2000. His first opportunity to be the head coach occurred in Portugal with Benfica. From there he eventually found the most success with the club, Porto.
In his first season at the helm, he won the league.
Then he won the UEFA Cup. In his third and final year, Porto did the unthinkable and won the UEFA Champions League. For a mid-level team, such a victory was incredible, and it attracted the interest of major clubs across Europe. When he left, Mourinho said that if he had stayed, “I would have been second, after God, in the eyes of the fans.”
Mourinho left for Chelsea that year and brought along most of his staff, as well as a few Porto players including Ricardo Carvalho and Paulo Ferreira. He immediately brought success to the English club, winning the Premier League title twice in his first two years. However, he could not reproduce a Champions League victory despite coming close on several occasions. His relationship with owner, Roman Abromovich, became sour and in the fall of 2007, he left by mutual consent. Mourinho was Chelsea’s greatest coach, winning six trophies in just 3 years and never losing a league match at home.
He was also never one to shy away from the media. Speaking of his predecessor at Chelsea, Claudio Ranieri, Mourinho said he was “too old to do it” when referring to him winning a major trophy. He branded Arsenal manager, Arsene Wenger a “voyeur”, adding that “he likes to watch other people.” He even accused Barcelona manager, Frank Rijkaard, of “entering the referee’s dressing room” during halftime of a Champions League match so that he could bribe them into sending off Didier Drogba. Such quotations were often employed in an effort to play mind games with his opponents. He even admitted, “When I go to the press conference before the game, in my mind the game has already started.”
After leaving Chelsea, Mourinho took some time away from the game but returned the following summer to manage Inter Milan. His tactical brilliance helped the Italian side along to greatness, and in two years he had won the Serie A twice and the Champions League once in 2010. Inter was successful largely in part to the defensive intensity that his teams typically employ. Such a style forces errant passes by the opposition that his team could pounce upon. The 2-0 Champions League victory clearly demonstrated just that:
Winning all he could in Italy, Mourinho brought his genius to Spain and Real Madrid of all places. Further cementing his image as a traitor to Barcelona, he teamed up with fellow countryman, Christiano Ronaldo. Since then the Portuguese tandem have yet to experience much success. They have not won a major trophy, but are well within the grasp of the La Liga title and even the Champions League this season. The next few weeks could decide Mourinho’s fate.
Where is next for Jose Mourinho? He is linked across the globe. English clubs want him. Portugal wants him to coach the national team. Everybody wants him. He will be elsewhere soon, as he has even warned, “I know all about the ups and downs of football. I know that one day I will be sacked.”
Nicholas Spiller is a freelance soccer writer and can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.