Skip to main content

Mourinho unmasked: Why 'The Special One' needs to feel loved again

By Chris Murphy, CNN
June 3, 2013 -- Updated 1617 GMT (0017 HKT)
Jose Mourinho returned to coach Chelsea six years after leaving the club. After a spell with Inter Milan he endured a tough three years at Real Madrid and returns a different man and coach. Jose Mourinho returned to coach Chelsea six years after leaving the club. After a spell with Inter Milan he endured a tough three years at Real Madrid and returns a different man and coach.
HIDE CAPTION
The Special One
Destined for greatness
Vintage Porto
The ego has landed
Twin triumph
Loyalty to loyalty
The final act
The Real world
Madrid men
Back to the Bridge
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Jose Mourinho is returning to coach Chelsea six years after leaving London
  • The Portuguese coach's three-year tenure at Real Madrid ended in failure
  • Mourinho ready to build a dynasty at Chelsea, according to a Portuguese journalist
  • One of his former players says Mourinho is perfectly suited to English football

(CNN) -- "The English media created an icon, an almost perfect human being." - soccer agent Paulo Texeira.

Above all else, Jose Mourinho just needs to feel loved again.

It has been in short supply during the final, painful throes of his tempestuous tenure as coach of Real Madrid.

Beaten to the La Liga title by Barcelona, blasted out of the Champions League by Borussia Dortmund and battered by the press in Madrid, this is a season he's decried as the worst of his career.

The 50-year-old leaves looking visibly drained, with dissent dripping from the dressing room and insults ringing in his ears, rivals lamenting him as a "scourge" on Spanish football.

Read: Mourinho returns to Chelsea

Mourinho returns to Chelsea
José Mourinho: 'I hate my social life'
José Mourinho on managing star players
José Mourinho's press conference antics

Little wonder then that Mourinho has opted for a return to Chelsea, the English side that helped the Portuguese etch his name into the fabric of modern football folklore as "The Special One."

For a man who seems determined to forge new frontiers and embrace different cultures around the continent his desire for a second stint at Stamford Bridge has come as a surprise to many.

But according to Portuguese journalist Jose Carlos Freitas, Mourinho's latest move is down to the concept of pater familias; having reached a stage in his career where he wants to mold a club in his image for the long term.

"I think he is ready to come back to Chelsea in a different way, to try and build something from zero," Freitas, a reporter at the Record newspaper, told CNN.

"It will be a challenge to rebuild Chelsea's team. This might be the job that keeps him there for five or 10 years. He needs to be the number one guy in the club, not only winning but thinking about the club, changing it, preparing it.

"When Mourinho was starting his career he wanted to win things -- leagues, cups and the Champions League -- but now he has achieved this status in his career where he needs more.

"I see this might be a great chance for him to finally have a real connection with (Chelsea's billionaire Russian owner Roman Abramovich) in the way that they can build a Chelsea to look like Manchester United did under Alex Ferguson."

Read: Mourinho: "Worst season of my career"

Freitas agrees that Mourinho's time at Real will have chastened the coach who famously anointed himself as "special."

He always understood something that is awfully important in modern football, to play a role, as if in the theater
Jose Carlos Freitas, Portuguese journalist

Three years in Spain have brought a hat-trick of domestic trophies, including a league title that broke Barcelona's dominance under Pep Guardiola, but, crucially, not the 10th European Champions League crown their fervent fans crave.

Growls of disquiet had been audible for a while but as soon as Real's quest for "La Decima" ended, it became a crescendo.

Mourinho spoke of the people in Spain who "hated" him and confirmation of his departure led Barcelona vice-president Carles Vilarrubi to declare him a "scourge on Spanish football" in a radio interview.

Vilarrubi also predicted he'll be a "disaster" at Chelsea.

Dressing room dissent

Unusually for a coach who has prided himself on forging unbreakable spirit amongst his squad, criticism has also seeped from his players.

The coach's decision to drop goalkeeper Iker Casillas, Spain's World Cup-winning captain and a Real poster boy with 23 years' service to the club, in favor of new signing Diego Lopez caused much of the consternation.

FIFA pass racism reforms
Platini: Bundesliga raises the bar
Beckham brand will outlast soccer career
Balotelli: 'I will leave the pitch'
Bobby Charlton: Ferguson's best moment

His own players, including fellow Portuguese Pepe, criticized his treatment of Casillas but Mourinho would not yield, dismissing the defender's remarks as jealousy.

Despite this fractious finale to his Real career, one of Mourinho's former players has a different take on the culture of conflict that has dominated the final chapter of his Bernabeu reign.

"At Real Madrid some players were against him but you have to look at that in a different way: why, in a 12-year career, is it that only two or three people are complaining?" asks Frederico Castro Roque dos Santos, known as Freddy, who played under Mourinho for Portuguese side Uniao de Leiria.

"For me this is success, this is huge. Everywhere he goes people like him; he passed through so many clubs, so many players, so many figures and only now some people complain."

Even as a young coach Mourinho was laying the founding principles upon which his success would be based. His first step is demonstrating, and demanding, ultimate loyalty from his charges.

So what was it like to play for him?

"He protected us from everyone, from the president, from fans, from journalists. To protect his own people he doesn't care about the consequences outside," Freddy explained.

"Even when he left Inter Milan, one player that hardly played (Italian defender Marco Materazzi) hugged him and cried with him, so this revealed what he does inside a team.

"He makes you believe you are the best player. In my case, a player who was 20 years old, he told me I would be the best player in the league. Even though I wasn't, I believed him. This is like a father to a son, your son is always the best. This is his major weapon.

"He's also good with personal relationships -- he is like a psychologist. He has a lot of qualities that are not normal in coaches.

Read: Mourinho accused over journalist clash

"I believe he is the same person but when you are coach of Chelsea or Real Madrid you have more enemies, let's say. It is a more difficult fight when you are in a big team, but he will protect everyone until the end."

Press relations

Mourinho's entrance at Chelsea back in 2004 was unforgettable.

Suave and sophisticated, he strolled into his new post as a Champions League winner with Porto and instantly declared to the gathered media: "I think I am a special one."

Jose makes you believe you're the best player. Like a father to a son, your son is always the best. This is his major weapon
Freddy, professional footballer

This one line came to symbolize his close relationship with the English press. They loved his perceived arrogance, the way he prowled the touchline, and he admired their principles of fair play.

Though that relationship had soured by the time he left Chelsea in 2007, having secured five major trophies -- including the club's first league title in 55 year -- it still represented the high point in his dealings with the media.

His time as coach of Internazionale in Italy, which yielded two Serie A titles, two domestic cup wins and another Champions League triumph, was punctuated by rows with journalists -- one even accused him of physical violence.

Relations with the notorious Madrid press veered between difficult and impossible; Mourinho's desire to shape the club the way he wanted combined with his confrontational style jarred with many.

"He always understood something that is awfully important in modern football, to play a role, as if in the theater," Freitas explains.

Jose Mourinho waves to the crowd following his final match in charge of Real Madrid -- a 4-2 home win against Osasuna. Jose Mourinho waves to the crowd following his final match in charge of Real Madrid -- a 4-2 home win against Osasuna.
Mourinho farewells Madrid
HIDE CAPTION
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
>
>>
Mourinho farewells Madrid Mourinho farewells Madrid
Dortmund coach Jurgen Klopp and Real boss Jose Mourinho had a pre-match chat on the field while their teams went through the warm-up ahead of the tie. Dortmund coach Jurgen Klopp and Real boss Jose Mourinho had a pre-match chat on the field while their teams went through the warm-up ahead of the tie.
High five
HIDE CAPTION
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
>
>>
Dynamic Dortmund destroys Real Dynamic Dortmund destroys Real
Jose Mourinho opened up to CNN World Sport's Pedro Pinto by revealing he hates his social life. "I would love to be with my family in the street as a normal person and I can't," he said in this exclusive interview. Jose Mourinho opened up to CNN World Sport's Pedro Pinto by revealing he hates his social life. "I would love to be with my family in the street as a normal person and I can't," he said in this exclusive interview.
The Special One
HIDE CAPTION
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
>
>>
One special career for Jose One special career for Jose

"If you go to the theater you see an actor performing a role and he does that. I think he does that sometimes in a positive way, sometimes in a way people don't understand. The press in Madrid never understood this.

"The press are all supporters of the club. It's a personal thing in Spain, when they see someone who is trying to change the situation at the club.

"He tried to change the organization; he had problems with (former Real director) Jorge Valdano, trying to have full control of the professional team. This was not regarded as a positive thing by the press or the players.

"There was no way out for him, even if he had won the Champions League. If he had won 'La Decima' then he could have gone out using the main door leaving like a God, but he didn't."

Freddy's playing career is nearing an end but he already has his "UEFA 'B" coaching license as he looks to follow in Mourinho's footsteps. He says his old coach's methods will form the basis upon which he approaches his role.

"As Mourinho said, we always can improve the individual," he explained. "We don't have to take the best players to have the best team, we can put a couple of guys together and make them the best together. I saw this with my eyes so I want to do it for the kids back in my home country Angola.

"I learnt from Mourinho that everyone should be treated differently. You wouldn't treat Frank Lampard the same like John Obi Mikel. A guy that is more explosive I try to extract his quality, a guy that is more technical too, we don't need to criticize.

"We were in one team that was simple and we were fighting to be champions with a low budget, inferior players, but as a unit it worked, I saw it with my eyes. We can inject psychology and knowledge into any individual.

"Mourinho is almost complete as a coach. In England he is known as 'The Special One' but when you know him, you see that it's not a joke. He is special."

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
CNN Football Club
Be part of CNN's coverage of European Champions League matches and join the social debate.
April 15, 2014 -- Updated 1523 GMT (2323 HKT)
The 1989 Hillsborough stadium tragedy, which claimed 96 lives, brought the red and the blue halves of Liverpool together.
CNN's Don Riddell says the 1989 Hillsborough tragedy has caused irreparable damage to the families of the 96 victims and the survivors.
April 11, 2014 -- Updated 1244 GMT (2044 HKT)
The Champions league trophy stands on show during the draw for the quarter-finals of the UEFA Champions league at the UEFA headquarters in Nyon on March 21, 2014. AFP PHOTO/FABRICE COFFRINI (Photo credit should read FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images)
Two European heavyweights will collide in the Champions League semifinals after Bayern Munich and Real Madrid were drawn together in Switzerland.
March 24, 2014 -- Updated 1248 GMT (2048 HKT)
West Bromwich Albion's French striker Nicolas Anelka looks on during the English Premier League football match between West Bromwich Albion and Newcastle United at The Hawthorns in West Bromwich, central England, on January 1, 2014.
England prides itself on being the home of football, but is the nation dysfunctional in dealing with racist abuse?
March 18, 2014 -- Updated 1339 GMT (2139 HKT)
In a city where football is a religion, Liverpool and England striker Daniel Sturridge is fast becoming a deity.
French former football player Zinedine Zidane reacts during the gala football 'Match Against Poverty' organized by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) on March 4, 2014 in Bern.
Some of the biggest names in football lined up for a charity match, but CNN's Tom McGowan wonders if they can help beat poverty.
March 4, 2014 -- Updated 1555 GMT (2355 HKT)
"Everyone is scared about war -- they are very nervous," former Ukraine football star Oleg Luzhny says of the rising tensions with Russia.
February 26, 2014 -- Updated 1807 GMT (0207 HKT)
Bayern Munich's present success rests on one key decision, chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge tells CNN.
February 18, 2014 -- Updated 0922 GMT (1722 HKT)
Neymar
"More than a Club." It is an image Barcelona has carefully cultivated, but could the controversial deal to sign Neymar sour that view?
February 1, 2014 -- Updated 1825 GMT (0225 HKT)
Affectionately known as "the wise man of Hortaleza," Luis Aragones -- who died aged 75 -- left the legacy of helping Spain's ascension to the top.
January 23, 2014 -- Updated 2118 GMT (0518 HKT)
Real Madrid hasn't won the European Champions League in over a decade, but the Spanish club is invincible in one field -- making money.
The naming of the world's best footballer is not all that it seems, says CNN's James Masters.
ADVERTISEMENT