The man. The Legend. The Special One. Jose Mourinho, for those who had not already clued in. Young, as far as managers go, and already rated as one of, if not the best manager in the world. Mourinho, currently at Inter, is en route to winning not just the Serie A title, but also the Coppa Italia and the Champions League. An historic treble for the club and certainly for him. But first, let’s take a look back on his illustrious and wildly successful career.
Jose started out as a translator for the late Sir Bobby Robson, first accompanying him at Sporting CP, then FC Porto, and then Barcelona. Robson’s influence on Jose’s career would have been very substantial. Robson took a young Jose under his wing, and exposed him to all of the daily tasks of a football manager. Jose learned the tactics of the English game, he learned training techniques, he learned player psychology, and he learned how to handle press conferences and the media. It wasn’t only Sir Bobby who would have an influence on Mourinho; Louis van Gaal, current Bayern Munchen manager, also had a hand in moulding what would become a phenomenon of football management. Jose Mourinho served as assistant manager while Louis van Gaal was head coach at Barcelona. Together, the two won back to back La Liga titles.
Jose moved on and had brief stints in Portugal with Benfica and then Uniao de Leiria. FC Porto snapped him up in 2002, just two years into his management career, and he began to work absolute wonders. He won back to back league titles in 02-03 and 03-04, a Portuguese Cup, a Portuguese Super Cup, the UEFA Cup (now known as the Europa League), and then, finally, the Champions League. In two years, Jose Mourinho managed to win six trophies, including two European titles. Jose knew as soon as he won that Champions League in 2004 that it was mission accomplished. He barely celebrated it. He handed the trophy to his captain Paolo Ferreira, and threw his medal into the crowd. Jose was going to be on to bigger things.
Roman Abramovich had recently purchased Chelsea Football Club. His billionaire status meant that Mourinho would be able to bring in just about any players he wanted. After speculation about Mourinho joining Liverpool, he opted for Chelsea, and Liverpool signed Rafa Benitez. In Mourinho’s time at Chelsea, he splashed the cash (around 70 million pounds) on many superstar signings who are still mainstays in the Chelsea side today. These include: Didier Drogba, Ashley Cole, Ricardo Carvalho, Michael Essien and so on. At Chelsea, Jose established himself as the most quotable, clever manager of this generation. His character was as much a talking point as his success. When he arrived at Chelsea as the current champion of Europe from his Porto time, he dubbed himself ‘The Special One.’ “Please don’t call me arrogant,” Jose explained, “But I’m European Champion and I think I am a Special One!” He exclaimed. And so he certainly went on to prove it during his time at Chelsea. He lifted two back to back league titles (making him immediately the most successful manager in Chelsea’s history), an FA cup, two League Cups, and a Community Shield. Although there was no European glory for Jose Mourinho at Stamford Bridge, his impact at Chelsea has lasted until this day.
Jose left Chelsea after problems with the Chelsea hierarchy – a.k.a Roman Abramovich – and joined Italian champions Inter. In his first season, he won the league, which many expected him to do. Then, as soon as he had the chance, he began to fashion a side that would be capable of playing the game exactly as he would like, and most notably signed Wesley Sneijder, Samuel Eto’o, Diego Milito, and Thiago Motta. Now, in his first season with his more personal Inter side, he is on the verge of history.
While many will be congratulating Roma for their stunning comeback after being 14 points behind Inter at one stage of the season, and then to be 1 point ahead of them, Jose’s Inter would always be favourites. After Pazzini’s brace blasted Roma effectively out of the title race, the Roma players knew what it would mean. Inter would walk away with the title after Roma had fought so hard all season. Jose loves that kind of thing, being the bad guy. The way to the league title is now clear and his for the taking.
For his second trophy of what will be a magical treble, he will be facing off against Claudio Ranieri’s Roma for the Coppa Italia, a game he will love to win, seeing as Ranieri was also once a Chelsea manager, and Mourinho would also be delighted to see his closest challengers this season be defeated by him twice.
Then, for his most prestigious third trophy of the treble, Jose goes into the Camp Nou in the Champions League semi-final against Barcelona leading 3-1 on aggregate, after a stunning display at the San Siro against the reigning champions. Should Jose pull it off in Barcelona, he will most likely face Bayern Munchen and his old friend Louis van Gaal. It will be advantage Inter in the final; they will be favorites at the bookies and favorites on paper, but all is yet to be decided.
If Mourinho were to pull off this magical treble and win the Champions League for the second time in his career, would he hand the trophy off to Javier Zanetti, throw his medal into the stands, and take the next big job? Real Madrid, for one, would definitely be beckoning.
Here’s to one of the great characters of our beloved game sticking around for another 20 years and creating as much drama and controversy as he does success. Cheers Jose!