Real Madrid boss Jose Mourinho has revealed he seriously considered taking the England job after leaving Chelsea in September 2007, coming within "hours" of doing so before electing to stay in club football.
"When I left Chelsea, the first month was fantastic. I went to Africa, to Japan, I did tons of things I had not been able to do" said Mourinho of the period after leading the English side to its first league title in half a century, and then repeating the dose before falling out with billionaire owner Roman Abramovich. "The second month was good too, but from the third onwards it was horrible, just awful," Mourinho said in an interview with French sports daily L'Equipe.
Revealing he had mulled several club offers he admitted his interest had been piqued by the England job which Steve McClaren had just lost and which ultimately went to Italian Fabio Capello. "I was hours away - I almost signed up for the English national side. But at the last moment I began thinking: 'I am going to coach a national side, there will be one match a month and the rest of the time I will be in my office or supervising matches. And then to have to wait until the summer to compete in a European Championship or a World Cup'? No, it wasn't for me.
"So at the last moment I pulled back preferring to wait for the right job to come along, a good club, a challenge that could motivate me. That was Inter," said Mourinho, who led the Italians to their first European Cup in half a century last season as well as Serie A and Italian Cup glory.
He added he had briefly considered if Paris Saint Germain, in the doldrums since a last French title in 1994, might not have been a stage on which he might strut his stuff. Instead, he said he felt that England, Spain and Italy were likely to prove a better test of his mettle, adding he could not understand how Paris, as a major European capital, could seemingly not aspire to producing a European football giant.
Asked to explain his giving the impression of 'arrogance' on the touchline, Mourinho, who this season hopes to become the first coach ever to lead three clubs to UEFA Champions League glory, said it was his nature to wish to try to exert an influence on the outcome of a match. "But I am very different on the bench today compared with six, seven or eight years ago. Sometimes I stay in my seat almost the whole match without communicating much. Other times, I am on my feet from the first minute till the 90th and very active. It depends on the situation."
Asked if he could reignite Real, who have under-achieved for a decade since winning the last of their European titles while appointing and discarding a squadron of coaches, Mourinho said: "The issue is not one of power but of having the conviction that one can succeed. Clubs must understand that coaching for me is not just encouraging players, preparing matches, drawing up the teamsheet and who you send on and take off. If you take me on as coach you must take me as I am."
And Mourinho added that he does not take his work home with him. "When I get home I live like anyone else. I help my son and daughter with their homework, have a coffee with my wife. We want to be a normal family."
But he conceded that it was "impossible" to go shopping with his wife and "I cannot go and watch my lad play football just as any other father would do. Only my family and my closest colleagues are allowed to know who is the real Jose Mourinho."