Jose Mourinho: The 'Special One'


Jose Mourinho, who was born on 26 January 1963 is the Portuguese Head Coach of Real Madrid.

He is commonly known as “The Special One,” and regarded by some players, coaches, and critics as one of the best football coaches of all time.

Mourinho started out as a fring player and eventually switched to management. After leaving his job as a school coach, Mourinho looked for paths into professional management in his hometown and became the youth team coach at Vitoria de Setubal in the early 1990s. Working his way up the ladder, he accepted the position of assistant manager at Estrela da Amadora, then as the assistant manager of Ovarense. Mourinho yearned for greater challenges and in 1992 an opportunity arose to work as a translator for a top foreign coach. Sir Bobby Robson had been appointed as the new manager of Lisbon club Sporting Clube de Portugal and the Englishman required a local coach with a good command of English to work as his interpreter.

Initially a step away from management, Mourinho began discussing tactics and coaching with Robson in his interpreting role. Robson was sacked by Sporting in December 1993, but Portuguese rivals FC Porto appointed him as their head coach and Mourinho moved with him, continuing to coach and interpret for players at the new club. After two years at Porto, the duo moved again, switching to FC Barcelona in 1996, where he learnt Catalan for the new challenge. Mourinho and his family moved to Barcelona and he gradually became a prominent figure of Barcelona’s staff by translating at press conferences, planning practice sessions, and helping players through tactical advice and analysis of the opposition. Robson and Mourinho’s styles complemented each other: the Englishman favoured an attacking style, while Mourinho covered defensive options, and the Portuguese’s love of planning and training combined with Robson’s direct man-management. The partnership was fruitful and Barcelona finished the season with the European Cup Winners’ Cup. Robson moved club the following season but this time Mourinho did not follow as Barcelona were keen to retain him as assistant manager. The two remained good friends and Mourinho later reflected on the effect Robson had had upon him

He worked with Robson at Sporting Clube de Portugal and Porto in Portugal, and Barcelona in Spain. He remained at the Catalonian club after Robson’s departure and worked with his successor Louis van Gaal.

He began focusing on coaching and impressed with brief but successful managerial periods at Benfica and União de Leiria, taking the latter to their highest ever league finish. He returned to Porto in early 2002 as Head Coach, winning the Primeira Liga, Taça de Portugal, and UEFA Cup in 2003.

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In the next season he guided the team to victory in the Supertaça Cândido de Oliveira, to the top of the league for a second time, and won the highest honour in European club football, the UEFA Champions League.

Mourinho moved to Chelsea the following year and won the Premier League title, ending a fifty-year-old drought, and the League Cup that season. In his second year he won the Community Shield and again the Premier League. He managed the cup double in 2007, winning the FA Cup and League Cup. He often courted controversy for his outspokenness, but his victories at Chelsea and Porto established him as one of the world’s top football managers. Mourinho left Chelsea early in his fourth season there allegedly after a series of disagreements with the club’s chairman Roman Abramovich.

In 2008 he moved to Italy’s Serie A, signed a three-year contract with Inter. Within three months he had won his first Italian honour, the Supercoppa Italiana, and completed the season by winning the Serie A league title. Mourinho followed the next season by winning the first treble in Italian history, the Serie A league title, Coppa Italia, and the UEFA Champions League, the first time Inter had won in 45 years, thus becoming the third manager in football history to win two UEFA Champions League with two different teams, after Ernst Happel and Ottmar Hitzfeld.

He won the first ever FIFA Ballon d’Or Best Coach Award in 2010. He then signed with Real Madrid in 2010, winning the Copa del Rey in his first season. The following year, 2012, he won the La Liga and became the fourth coach, after Tomislav Iviæ, Ernst Happel, and Giovanni Trapattoni, to have won league titles in at least four different countries: Portugal, England, Italy, and Spain, also becoming the first manager to win the traditional top three European championships.

—Bimbo Ajayi

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