The Life & Times Of “The Special One”

By on April 5, 2011

Widely regarded as one of the greatest managers in football history, the Portuguese maestro was once an anymous guy. Due to his failure to succeed as a professional player, Jose switched to management. Initially working as an assistant manager and a youth team coach, he became an interpreter for Sir Bobby Robson (first at Sporting and Porto, later at Barcelona). With Robson’s departure, the young ambitious Portuguese worked with Louis Van Gaal who let Jose develop his own style and named him coach of Barcelona B. Van Gaal also entrusted Jose the charge of the first team for certain less important throphies like Copa Catalunya. He won it.

He went to Benfica and in September 2000 replaced manager Heynckes refusing the offer of his mentor, Sir Bobby Robson to join him in Newcastle as an assistant manager. Jose left Benfica in December 2000 due to a conflict with newly-elected president Vilarinho.

In April 2001, Jose signed with Uniao de Leiria whom he took to fifth place (highest-ever league finish in the clubs’ history). In January 2002, Mourinho replaced Porto manager Octavio Machado, guiding the team to third place.

Mourinho’s innovations soon paid off as he won the Treble in 2003: his first Primeira Liga (11 points ahead of Benfica), Portuguese Cup and Uefa Cup against Celtic.

The following season, Mourinho won the Portuguese SuperCup, lost the Uefa SuperCup, won the title (perfect home record), lost the Portuguese Cup (in the final against Benfica) and finally won the Uefa Champions League with a 3-0 win over As Monaco (his only defeat in that season came against Real Madrid, during the group stages). Suddenly, Porto became too small for Mourinho.

Linked to Liverpool, Real Madrid and Chelsea, Jose signed for the London-based club, despite stating that he would prefer the Liverpool job. His career in Portugal was filled with controversy as he refused to shake hands with Boavista manager Pacheco (saying he doesn’t shake hands with someone he doesn’t know), ripped Rui Jorge’s shirt (after a derby against rivals Sporting), and even angered Sir Alex Ferguson (during the clash at the Dragao in 2004)

Jose signed with Chelsea in June 2004. During a press conference later on, the flamboyant manager said: “Please don’t call me arrogant, but I’m European champion and I think I’m a special one.” By December in his first season, Chelsea were topping the Premier League. Jose won his first trophy, the League Cup, against Liverpool in Cardiff. At the end of the game, Jose was escorted from the field as he angered Liverpool fans by putting his finger to his mouth.

He also secured Chelsea’s first domestic title in 50 years, failing however to achieve Champions League success as Chelsea lost in the semi-finals against eventual winners Liverpool.

In the following season, Mourinho won the Premier League title again, defeating rivals United 3-0 along the way. In the summer of 2006, Chelsea splashed the money on in-form striker Andriy Shevchenko, despite frictions between Jose and Abramovich over the transfer. As the Ukrainian failed to impress in London, Jose’s relationship with the Russian tycoon suffered a blow. Abramovich would often insist that the striker should play, despite his poor form.

Jose launched an ambitious 2006-2007 campaign to complete “the quadruple”. He won the League Cup defeating Arsenal, but lost against Liverpool in the Champions League and failed to win the Premier League title as well, drawing against Arsenal at the Emirates, thus Manchester United were crowned as champions. Still, Chelsea won the FA Cup, beating United 1-0.

The Special One had to endure more obstacles, as the owner appointed Avram Grant as Director of Football, despite the Portuguese objections.

Mourinho left Chelsea in September 2007 as the most successful in Chelsea’s history. At Chelsea, he disagreed with Mutu (later tested positivie for cocaine), accused referee Anders Frisk and Barcelona’s manager of having a meeting at half-time (during a tie between the two teams), was fined for breaking the Premier League rules by luring Ashley Cole in a secret meeting, labeled Wenger as “a voyeur”, just to name a few of his antics.

In June 2008, Mourinho was named manager of Internazionale, bringing along his own backroom staff. In his first press conference, he spoke solely in Italian, claiming to have learnt it in just 3 weeks.

In his first season at Inter, Mourinho won the Italian SuperCup and the Serie A, failing to win the Champions League. In the second season, Inter won the Treble, a fantastic feat for the Italian giants (first Italian club to complete the Treble). In Europe, Jose managed to beat Chelsea in the Round of 16, holders Barcelona on aggregate in the semi-finals and Bayern in the final.

Speaking about the clash with Barcelona at Camp Nou (Barcelona won 1-0), Mourinho claimed the loss to be “the most beautiful defeat of my life”.

In Italy, Jose hosted feuds with anyone: Carlo Ancelotti, Spalletii, Ranieri, Lippi, the press, etc. He accused the journalists of “intellectual prostitution”. He is famous for his “zeru tituli” catchphrase.

The day after having won the Uefa Champions League at Bernabeu, he acknowledged to leave Inter adding that “if you don’t coach Real Madrid then you will always have a gap in your career”

On 31 May 2010, Mourinho was unveiled as the new Real Madrid manager. This season, Real Madrid have the chance of winning both the Champions League and the Spanish Cup. Most probably, this season’s finale will bring one of the most exciting clashes of the moment in football: Jose vs Pep. With 2 games already scheduled this month, they could meet again in the semi-finals of the Uefa Champions League (just like last year).

Between 23.02.2002 and 2.04.2011, Jose went 150 home league games unbeaten. The Special One was praised by chess legend as a “great psychologist and strategist”, while Sir Alex Ferguson claimed that “he’s at the top, there’s no doubt about that”.

Remember that he is one of the three managers in football history to have won the Champions League trophy with two different teams (after Ernst Happel and Ottmar Hitzfeld).

Often portrayed as a villain by the media and the other managers, speaking about Mourinho, let me just quote a succesful lawyer who gave this opening statement during a murder trial: “(speaking to the jury) I assure you I’ll be doing everything I can to make this proceeding all about me.”

This applies to Jose like a glove. His antics on and off-the-field have been delightful so far.

Love him or hate him.  He is The Special One

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