In 2004, José Mourinho started early at Chelsea.
“We have top players and, pardon the arrogance, we have a top manager,” the Portuguese said in his first press conference at a Premier League club, shortly after he led Porto to league glory champions.
“Please don’t call me arrogant, but I’m a European champion and I think I’m special.”
Devilishly handsome, with evil charm and natural bravado. The men wanted to be. Women wanted well…you get the point. Mourinho not only talked but also walked, winning the EFL Cup and the Premier League in his first season.
It was Chelsea’s first national title in 50 years and at the time they broke the record for most points in a Premier League season (95) and fewest goals conceded (15).
Mourinho really was “Special” and this is undoubtedly his most famous quote.
But there are many others. To celebrate his 60th birthday, here are some classic Mourinho moments.
Declaring itself in England
With seconds left on the clock in the 2003-04 Champions League Round of 16, Mourinho’s Porto needed a goal at Old Trafford. “If we don’t score we’re out, if we score we win, those are the knockout details,” Mourinho told UEFA in 2015, reflecting on that March 2004 night.
Benny McCarthy saw Tim Howard parry a free-kick from long range and Costinha was ready to shoot on goal and silence the fans. As his team rushed to one of the corners to celebrate the win, Mourinho jumped off the bench and galloped down the touchline with his hands up. By a full day’s work, he was already heading through the tunnel.
“We were in the dressing room and it was not like the last 16 matches, it was like a quarter-final,” Mourinho recalled. “Then someone knocks on the door and it was Sir Alex. [Ferguson] and Gary Neville, captain, and they told us congratulations, you deserve it, enjoy it and good luck.
“It was something that we are not used to in Portuguese culture, but it is something that I have retained and I have done it several times in my career when some opponent did something great against my team. I hid something from big people that can make others feel special.
Mourinho had a bitter rivalry with Arsene Wenger during his first time in the Premier League and even went so far as to suggest that the Arsenal boss was something of a voyeur.
“There are guys who have a big telescope to see what’s going on in other families. He must be one of them,” said Mourinho.
You’d be forgiven for thinking that the term “park the bus” has been common football jargon in Britain for many, many years. However, it was Mourinho who first introduced him after his Chelsea team lost to Tottenham in a draw.
Mourinho is not too happy with Spurs’ defensive approach: “They brought the bus and left it in front of the goal, as we say in my country.”
Last October, the phrase “park the bus” was added to the Oxford English Dictionary.
Too many medals
It must be nice when you win so much that you can throw away medals. This is exactly what Mourinho did after leading Chelsea to a second successive league title in 2006.
The success marked Mourinho’s fourth successive national title, and after being presented with the winner’s medal, he tossed it and his blazer into the stands. He was quickly awarded another medal; this also turned out to be in the crowd.
In Mourinho’s second season at Real Madrid, a late Cristiano Ronaldo goal saw off Manchester City in the Champions League group stage and Mourinho celebrated as best he could, jumping off the bench and kneeling down.
This was the match in which former Oasis frontman Liam Gallagher was reprimanded by the police in the crowd. Rock ‘n’ roll on and off the field.
Mourinho’s time in Madrid ended with the next campaign when he fell out with key players including Ronaldo. “Maybe he thinks he knows everything and that the coach can no longer improve him,” Mourinho said of his compatriot.
I prefer not to speak…
Mourinho’s second time at Chelsea brought the league title in 2014-15, but he also quoted a quote that has lived on as an online meme and viral clip ever since.
Chelsea lost 1–0 to Aston Villa in March 2014 when Willian and Ramirez were sent off by his side and the goal was disallowed. Mourinho was also sent to the stands.
“I prefer not to speak,” he told Sky Sports. “If I say I’m in trouble, big trouble, and I prefer not to get into big trouble. If I speak, I will be accused of bringing the game into disrepute.”
Mourinho talked about the referees for a few more minutes.
Mourinho is known to have shut up Liverpool fans in a clash with the Reds during his first Chelsea spell and it was his side that dealt a major blow to Liverpool’s title hopes in 2013–14.
In April 2014, Liverpool were only three games away and three points ahead of Manchester City. However, a miss from great club Steven Gerrard allowed Demba Ba to lash out and give Chelsea the lead.
Chelsea were a second too late, forcing Mourinho to rush to the touchline and celebrate in front of the Kop. City won the title.
Respect, respect, respect
Mourinho’s time as Manchester United manager ended in a typically volatile fashion, with signs of this from the start of the 2018–19 season.
After a 3-0 home loss to Tottenham, Mourinho responded sharply to his doubters as he walked out of the press conference.
“Just to finish, you know what the result was – 3-0,” said Mourinho, holding up three fingers. “It means 3:0. But that also means three Premier Leagues, more Premier Leagues than the other 19 managers put together. Three for me, two for them. Respect, respect, respect.”
1.89 – José Mourinho’s points-per-game ratio at Manchester United (1.89) was exactly the same as Mauricio Pochettino’s at Tottenham Hotspur in the Premier League (1.89). Replacement. pic.twitter.com/HUrTkXf3ue
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) November 20, 2019
Mourinho Dele Alli’s advice was prominently featured in the 2020 Tottenham Hotspur documentary series All or Nothing.
“Now I’m 56, and yesterday I was 20. Time flies by. One day I think you will regret it if you don’t achieve what you can achieve,” said Alli Mourinho, then at Spurs.
“I don’t expect you to be man of the match in every game. I don’t expect you to score goals in every game. I just want to tell you that you will regret this. You have to demand more of yourself.”
Less than 18 months after the documentary aired, Alli’s spell at Tottenham ended and at the age of 25, he moved to Everton on an initial free transfer. Six months after that, he was in Turkey with Besiktas where he was heavily criticized for his performances.
As Mourinho celebrates his 60th birthday, one thing cannot be denied: he will go down in history as one of the best managers to ever grace the game.
He joined Roma in 2021 and is doing what he does best. He won.
4. José Mourinho became the first manager to win a major European tournament with four different teams (Porto x2, Internazionale, Manchester United and Roma). Special. pic.twitter.com/3xj5mjsfDm
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) May 25, 2022
Roma won the Europa Conference League last year, making Mourinho the first manager to complete the UEFA treble by winning the Champions League, UEFA Cup/Europa League and European Conference League (instead of the defunct UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup).
He was the fifth manager to reach the final of all three current major European tournaments and the first to reach the final of a major European tournament with four different clubs.
Mourinho’s record speaks for itself. Of 1,076 games as a manager, he won 677 (62.9%) and his teams scored 2,082 goals.
He is, after all, Special.