Capello unfazed by Mourinho claims
Mourinho made his bold statement during an extensive interview with L'Equipe. The Real Madrid boss said he would have been Steve McClaren's successor in 2007 had it not been for a last-minute change of heart. The Portuguese, who left Chelsea in September 2007, two months before McClaren was sacked by England, explained he decided late in the day he wanted to remain in club management.
"I was hours away - I almost signed up for the England national team," said Mourinho. "But at the last minute 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 overseeing 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."
The FA's response was swift. "Fabio was our first choice for England manager," said a spokesman. "We have made that clear from the outset."
Mourinho was linked with the England job immediately after the Three Lions crashed out of UEFA EURO 2008 in qualifying. He would undoubtedly have been high on the FA's wish-list and conversations did take place, although there were always reservations about whether he would commit to the role, even with a £6 million-a-year salary attached.
The former Chelsea boss put an end to his candidacy on 11 December, declaring: "After deep and serious thinking, I decided to exclude myself from being England manager."
Three days later, Capello was unveiled. But if there was a sense of the Italian being second choice, he is clearly not troubled by it. "It does not matter to me," he said. "Every time a club or a different national team decides to choose a manager, they decide to speak with a lot of managers. It's normal. It's not different."
Indeed, there were claims Capello was approached to replace Sven-Goran Eriksson in 2006, only to turn the FA down. "I don't like to speak about my relationship with the clubs, with other people," said Capello. "These are my personal secrets. I will never tell you about what really happened in my career. It's serious."
He remains the main man too, although there are some aspects of his job many feel he has not devoted enough time to, namely his mastery of the English language which, after three-and-a-half years, is still not sufficient for him to grasp the finer details of questions he is posed, even if he insists it is perfect for the points he needs to make on the training ground. "How many languages do you speak?" he challenged.
"When I speak with the players they understand everything and that is what is important in this job. If I need to speak about the economy or other things, I can't but when you speak about tactics, you don't use a lot of words. I don't have to speak about a lot of different things. Maximum 100 words."