Former Argentina coach Diego Maradona attended training at Real Madrid today at the club's Valdebebas complex just outside the Spanish capital, taking the opportunity to talk with Los Meringues' coach Jose Mourinho.
Mourinho and Maradona chatted on the sidelines during the quarter of an hour that the session was open to the press and after the former FIFA World Cup™-winner spoke of his expectation that they Spanish giants would find success in Europe with the Portuguese coach.
"He will give Real Madrid the Champions League title", he said. "You have to give Mourinho time so that the players can understand what he wants. That's what happened at Inter and the Italians won the European Cup after a more than 50-year gap. If they wait for Mourinho, I am convinced he will give Real Madrid the Champions League in a short space of time," Maradona told Real's website.
Mourinho won his first European title with Porto in his native Portugal in 2004 before moving to Chelsea, where, while unable to succeed in Europe nonetheless delivered back-to-back English Premier League titles - the Londoners' first in half a century.
He then joined Inter and last May joined Ernst Happel and Ottmar Hitzfeld as the only coaches to win the European Cup with two different sides as the Milanese pulled off an unprecedented treble which also included the Serie A title and Italian Cup.
He ex-Argentina manager added: "Mourinho is above criticism - his methods are sensational. He allows the players to enjoy themselves but when he has to use the iron fist he does so and when he has to gee up the team on the field he knows how to do so better than anybody."
Maradona also said he believed that since the Portuguese had arrived last summer, he had created "a great camaraderie among the players (which) is down to Mourinho. The training that I saw everyone wanted to play. This is the healthy competition (for places) which Mourinho is creating at Real Madrid."
The club have won a record nine European Cups but their last came eight years ago when French maestro Zinedine Zidane scored a sizzling winner against Germany's Bayer Leverkusen. Since then, other 'galacticos' such as David Beckham and Ronaldo have come and gone without the club excelling in European competition - Real have not even reached the UEFA Champions League semi-finals since.
Maradona said he was looking forward to a finely-balanced 29 November 'clasico' between unbeaten Real and Barcelona, who trail the capital club by a single point after 11 games.
Portuguese star Cristiano Ronaldo meanwhile trained with strapping on a calf strain suffered in Wednesday's friendly international win over Spain in Lisbon. The injury may keep the former Manchester United star out of tomorrow's meeting with Athletic Bilbao.