The true star at Stamford Bridge
Name: Jose Mario dos Santos Mourinho Felix
Born: 26 January 1963 in Setubal (Portugal)
Clubs: 1990-1992: fitness trainer at various clubs and assistant coach at Estrela Amadora (Portugal). 1992-1997: worked for Sir Bobby Robson at Sporting Lisbon, Porto and Barcelona. 2000-2001: Benfica. 2001-2002: Uniao Leiria. 2002-2004: Porto (all Portugal). Since June 2004: Chelsea (England).
Honors: UEFA Champions League (2004). UEFA Cup (2003). Portuguese league championship (2003, 2004). Portuguese cup (2003). Portuguese super cup (2003). English FA Premier League (2005, 2006). English League Cup (2005, 2007). FA Community Shield (2005).
Miscellaneous: married Tami in 1989, with whom he has two children, Matilde (10) and Jose (6).
Jose Mourinho is a successful and controversial coach, who opposing fans love to hate. We find out more about the 44-year-old Portuguese who already has an impressive haul of top trophies under his belt.
Jose Mourinho’s statement of self-belief, on his arrival at Chelsea in the summer of 2004, set the tone for the many victories and few defeats that have followed.
Mourinho had been lured away from FC Porto, whom he had just guided to a surprise victory in the UEFA Champions League. He told the expectant English media: “Please don’t call me arrogant but I’m European champion and I think I’m a special one.”
That self-serving label of “Special One” has floated around Mourinho ever since, like a halo. Fans and admirers use it in justifying praise of his achievements, critics taunt him with it in those occasions when one of the most high profile personalities in world club football slips up.
But – in his title record proves the point – Mourinho gets far more right than he ever gets wrong. That is why Chelsea fans swung behind him during a bumpy spell (by his standards) in the middle of this season; that is one of the reasons for the media fascination with his methods; and that is one of the reasons why his players – including some of Europe’s finest – exhibit such personal loyalty.
When Mourinho left Porto for Chelsea, two players, Paulo Ferreira and Ricardo Carvalho, had no hesitation in following him and more – would have done so, too. When speculation was raised in England a few months ago, players such as John Terry and Frank Lampard spoke up four-square in praise.
Friend and psychologist
Mourinho invests high levels of concentration and intensity into his work on and off the training ground and the Premiership pitch. He also eschews most managers’ squeamish reluctance to praise individual players when such accolades are due. But this does not means he favors the superstar over the substitute. One of Mourinho’s most faithful tenets over the years has been: “Players don’t win trophies – teams win trophies.”
In any case, it is Mourinho himself who is the biggest superstar at Stamford Bridge. Almost deliberately, he has turned himself into a lightning conductor, attracting pressure to himself and thus easing a little of the weight on his players’ shoulders. That, too, is a contribution to teamwork.
In an era when a manager is readily expendable after a handful of disappointing results, it is rare to find a coach who has got under the skin of his playing squad while retaining the respect and the perspective, which enables him to take toughest of decisions.
Mourinho is one; another, from a very different context and generation, is the Czech national manager Karel Bruckner. Few others exist in today’s over-demanding professional game.
Today’s successful coach must be almost a controlled schizophrenic. He is at once commander, friend, supporter, cheerleader, psychologist, instructor and role model. His players need him to be their leader; his directors need him to be ruthless … and everyone – players, directors, fans, media – need him to be successful.
That stereotype, as typified by Mourinho, demands both the right genes, personal vision and extraordinary ambition plus sheer hard work to capitalize on such a volatile cocktail of talents. Such a man also needs to grow up understanding the game though not necessarily as a trophy-winning player. In Arrigo Sacci’s famous words: “You do not need to have been a horse to become a successful jockey.”
Work as a spy
Mourinho was born in 1963, the year Benfica won the second of their two memorable European Champions’ Cup, three years before Portugal’s national team finished a best-ever third in the World Cup and 11 years before the so-called “carnation revolution” which freed the country from the stultifying grip imposed by the dictatorship of Antonio Salazar.
His father, Felix Mourinho, was a goalkeeper with Vitoria Setubal, Belenenses and – for just eight minutes as a substitute – the Portuguese national team. Later his greatest claim to fame was having once saved a penalty taken by the great Eusebio.
Jose’s story has not been rags to riches. Now riches, yes. Then rags, no. A great-uncle’s cannery business meant a comfortable middle-class upbringing. His father retired to become a coach and put the teenaged Jose to part-time work as a spy on forthcoming opponents and as a training ground aide. In due course, as a player himself, he never rose above the status of reserve-team defender.
A degree in sports science qualified Mourinho for three years teaching physical education in schools but his eye remained fixed on professional football and propelled him, in 1998, to start working towards a UEFA coaching license.
Andy Roxburgh, one of Mourinho’s initial tutors and now UEFA’s technical director, noted a command of far more than the training pitch alone. Roxburgh said: “Jose is very well-organized and likes structure within his teams, allied to individual talent. Talent wins you the game but only within order. He is very competitive and pays a lot of attention to the small details. He also communicates very well with everybody, which is an important skill for a modern-day manager. His fluency in languages means he can speak to the players in their own words.”
His own man
In due course this linguistic talent secured him a role as interpreter for newly-arrived English manager Bobby Robson at Sporting Lisbon. He followed Robson to Porto then Barcelona, stayed on as a coaching assistant to Dutchman Louis van Gaal then returned home determined that from now on, he was ready to be his own man, the Number 1.
In the summer of 2000 he began to scale the steps of the ladder which would lead him – at high speed – towards Chelsea via Benefica, Uniao Leiria and Porto. Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich needed a highly motivated, self-possessed man in his own successful mould as team manager; a man who could be equally decisive.
Mourinho has always been that. He expresses absolute faith in a squad of around 24 players, in his hand-picked assistants’ ability to raise his players’ game to another level and his intention to win games, which, in turn, spells trophies. That means, thus far, the Premier League and League Cup in 2005, the Premier League again in 2006 and who know what else that year?
Peter Kenyon, Chelsea’s chief executive, was the man who negotiated Mourinho’s arrival. He says: “Jose has been charged with being arrogant. I don’t think he is. I think he’s confident and self-assured and very thoughtful in what he does … The plan is that, in conjunction with Jose, we move Chelsea forward in domestic and European terms and that means winning trophies.”
“I am full of adrenalin!”
Not that it has been all sweetness and light. The edge of Mourinho’s words has occasionally been too sharp for his own good – notably in the furore with Swedish referee Anders Frisk after the 2005 Champions League visit to Barcelona, which brought him a two-game suspension from UEFA. A further unnecessary squabble arose with Aresnal’s manager Aresne Wenger whom Mourinho – frustrated by Wenger’s opinions over Chelsea’s money mountain – had described as “a Voyeur”. Perhaps both incidents were born out of Mourinho’s pursuit of the team-bonding siege mentality, which works so well for so many managers, including the likes of Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United.
England midfielder Frank Lampard says: “We thrive on togetherness. We’ve got the ability and we’ve got the players but without that spirit I don’t think you can win what we want to win. It’s something the manager has installed in us.”
Ferguson – who had a tetchy relationship with Mourinho when they first crossed swords in the Champions League – has described the Portuguese as a man of wit and intelligence. Perhaps Ferguson also recognizes in Mourinho the same remarkable hunger, which has driven him on, at Old Trafford, from trophy over two relentlessly successful decades.
Mourinho has never hidden his ambition beneath a façade of false modesty. He says: “First, I want to be loved by my people in west London. I want Chelsea supporters to love me. But if I go to another stadium – Old Trafford or Liverpool or Arsenal – and the crowd there also loves me then it will mean it is because I have become a loser with Chelsea. I am not waiting to let that happen. I am very demanding of myself. Every day I want to put on a high-level training session. Then I want to win matches and trophies. I am full of adrenalin! Of course, sometimes we do thing yesterday, which the world cannot forget – like me taking Porto to Champions League success in 2004. Or winning Chelsea’s first league title in 50 years. But, really, our life is all about the next day. I want to win more prizes, simple as that.”
Simple? Not for most managers. But then perhaps it is … for a self-confessed Special One.
“Nice, respectful and handsome”
Legendary English manager Sir Bobby Robson spent several years working with Jose Mourinho. Here, the 74-year-old talks about his one-time translator who has since become a star coach in his own right.
How did you first meet Jose Mourinho?
Sir Bobby Robson: it was at the airport in Lisbon when I took over as manager of Sporting in the early 1990s. He introduced himself, saying: “Hello, Mister. My name is Jose Mourinho and the president has hired me as your interpreter. I hope I can do a good job for you, Mister.” He always called me Mister. Very nice, very respectful, very handsome.
Was he good at that job?
Sir Bobby Robson: Of course. Anyway, it was just a start for him. But, the great thing was that if I said something hard and direct to an individual player or to the entire squad, he never tried to soften it in translation. He was strong but he developed a nice, positive rapport with everyone. The players loved him.
Then he went with you after Sporting?
Sir Bobby Robson: First to Porto and then to Barcelona. In fact, it was one of my stipulations when I moved to Barcelona that Jose should accompany me. You should have seen him with Ronaldo, whom I’d just signed for 20 million pounds. Ronaldo, for the short time we had him at Barcelona, was phenomenal. He had the need to be a great player – and so he listened to Jose. It didn’t matter that Jose had done nothing as a player. With a young genius like Ronaldo, he was perfect. Jose knew how to speak to him.
Did you want to bring him to England when you became manager at Newcastle United in 1999?
Sir Bobby Robson: I did speak to him about it. I thought it would be a great opportunity for him to get into English football. He could have come as my assistant and, probably, in due course, have moved up. But he had decided by then that he only ever wanted to be a manager, the boss, in his own right so it never happened.
What did you think when you knew he was coming to Chelsea?
Sir Bobby Robson: Actually, I rather feared for him. The Premiership is a mighty challenge and I thought he would need a buffer, perhaps a mentor, to guide him through the transition. I expected him to find it a battle first but, fair’s fair, he has had a terrific first two seasons.