Jose Mourinho is a contentious figure about whom it is hard to remain indifferent. Ever since his Porto side’s surprise victory in the 2004 UEFA Champions League final, his stock in the coaching world has continued to rise. Son of a Portuguese international goalkeeper, Mourinho enjoyed a modest playing career from 1980 to 1987, before deciding to try his hand at the tactical side of the game.
Starting out as an interpreter at Barcelona, he gradually grew into the role of assistant coach, first alongside Bobby Robson and then Louis van Gaal. When he took charge of Porto in 2002, he had less than two years’ experience as a first-team coach in Portuguese football to his name.
Noted for his creative, innovative approach and for his refusal to adopt one single system, Mourinho gave fans of Os Dragões a taste of things to come in his first full season, impressively leading his charges to victory in the 2003 UEFA Cup.
But it was Porto’s Champions League win the following year that truly made the football world sit up and take notice. No sooner had he lifted the trophy, however, than Chelsea came calling. His controversial declarations there were invariably lapped up by the English press, but in taking the spotlight in such a way, Mourinho ensured that his players were largely spared from criticism.
After securing two league titles, an FA Cup and two League Cups in England, the Setubal native packed his bags for Italy in 2008, where he would further add to his reputation by leading a talented Inter Milan squad to the Italian title in 2009. But the best was yet to come.
Highlights in 2010
During the 2009/10 season, his second in the Lombard capital, I Nerazzurri completed a historic treble, topping Serie A once again, as well as winning the Italian Cup and, most notably, the Champions League. The Portuguese supremo became the first man to achieve such a feat with an Italian club and only the third to win Europe’s premier trophy with two different teams.
These successes were not sufficient to keep an ambitious Mourinho in Milan, however. At the end of May 2010, he took over at Real Madrid, setting himself the goal of winning the championship in a fourth different country.
Despite the magnitude of the task, Mourinho has made a promising start to his tenure in Spain, notwithstanding a painful 5-0 rout at the hands of old foes Barcelona at the end of November.
"Barcelona are a finished product. At Real, there’s a feeling of uncertainty and doubts about continuity. In just a few years there have been [Fabio] Capello, [Bernd] Schuster, [Juande] Ramos, [Manuel] Pellegrini and me. You need stability."
On the differences between Barcelona and Real Madrid.
"I’m not Harry Potter. He is magical but in reality there is no magic. Magic is fiction and football is real."
On his role at Madrid.