Jose Mourinho has fuelled speculation he could succeed Sir Alex Ferguson as Manchester United manager by revealing Old Trafford "feels like home" ahead of Wednesday's UEFA Champions League last 16 second-leg tie at the so-called Theatre of Dreams.
The Inter Milan boss, a leading candidate to follow Ferguson when the 67-year-old Scot finally opts to end his now 23-year stint at the club, refused to distance himself from rumours linking him with a return to English football. Mourinho, who enjoyed three successful seasons at Chelsea, has endured a difficult relationship with the Italian media since his arrival at Inter last year.
And he admitted that managing reigning European champions United had real appeal - even if he has to wait 20 years for Ferguson to quit. Mourinho, whose Italian club team held United to a goalless draw in the first-leg, told reporters on Tuesday: "2004 was the first time I came to Old Trafford with Porto, so everything was new for me.
"But now it is like home because, in the five years since I first came here, I have been a lot of times in the Premier League, Carling (League) Cup and FA Cup semi-finals. "It has become part of my life and in that sense it's a different feeling coming back," the Portuguese added.
"I even know the groundsman. He is asking me to train on one side of the pitch because that side has no sun. I know the man, he's a nice guy, so that's okay! But succeeding Sir Alex? In 20 years maybe! He's tough, he's strong, he is happy and he loves it. He still wins, so let him be here for 20 more years!"
Mourinho, who is backing Argentinian defender Walter Samuel to prove his fitness in time for the second-leg, inspired Porto to a Champions League victory over United in the second round in 2004 - the year he guided the Portuguese club to the European title.
He admitted that Costinha's decisive injury-time goal at Old Trafford, which sparked a memorable dash down the touchline, paved the way for him to land his job at Chelsea. "Because of that goal, we could win the competition. Without it, we wouldn't even reach the quarter-final. A few years later, a lot of people knew those Porto players, but at that time they didn't. Who was this this crazy manager running down the touchline?
"It was a crucial moment in our career. Our careers changed and that team was destroyed because everyone had the potential for different flights," Mourinho said. "That was the goal which opened doors in England for me and my career was never the same. Of course I remember that moment really well, but that's football, that's over and I'm not one to look back.
"On Wednesday, we will try to do it against a very, very good team. We have in mind what we have to do and we know our qualities," he concluded. "Football is football. You never know what will happen, but we are prepared for the game and we believe we can do it."