Jose Mourinhos incredible career so far

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Legendary Portuguese coach Jose Mourinho has stepped into the Stadio Olimpico dugout – but how did the new Roma boss become the world-renowned manager he is today?

We take a look at the incredible career thus far of one of football’s most charismatic figures…


On 26 January, 1963, Jose Mario dos Santos Mourinho Felix was born to Felix and Maria Mourinho in the city of Setubal, a nudge south of the capital, Lisbon.

Portugal was at the time under the authoritarian rule of the Estado Novo and would go through the Colonial War until the regime was overthrown in 1974.

Mourinho later said of his childhood: “I had friends at the top of the social classes and friends who lived with great difficulties.

“It was a time of change in Portugal and for me, a very positive life experience that prepared me for a lifetime.”


Dad Felix was a professional footballer and played in goal for Vitoria Setubal and Belenenses, as well as earning one cap for his country against Republic of Ireland in 1972.

Jose would follow suit and played as a midfielder – largely in Portugal’s lower leagues – for Rio Ave, Belenenses, Sesimbra and Comercio e Industria.

His father also went into coaching and was a hugely popular figure wherever he went, including at Rio Ave and Belenenses where a young Jose – known then as ‘Ze’ – was plying his trade.

Felix later reflected in an interview with Spanish outlet AS: “If my son had been humble as I was, people in football would have eaten him already.”


Mourinho had already started undertaking scouting roles for his father by the time his professional playing ambitions were knocked on the head at 22 and – one year later, following an unsuccessful sole day at a business school – Mourinho enrolled at the Technical University of Lisbon to study sports science.

“If people think that, because I was not a top player, I was frustrated with that. I wasn’t,” he later told Esquire. “Not at all…

“Since the beginning, I always felt I was much more of a coach than a player, so when I finish my academic studies and coaching badges, I jumped naturally into that area.”




Mourinho started a new life as a freelance PE teacher at a variety of Primary Schools in 1987, a year before he headed to Largs, Scotland to undertake the first part of his UEFA coaching course.

He would study alongside the likes of former Scotland and Manchester United player Gordon Strachan as Mourinho took his first steps on the coaching ladder.


With that first UEFA badge in the bag, Mourinho was appointed a youth coach at Vitoria Setubal and began working with the club’s youngsters.

Stints at Estrela da Amadora and Ovarense would follow – before Mourinho got his first big break.


“He was just a schoolteacher when I met him.”

The words of the late, great Bobby Robson, who inherited Mourinho as a translator when taking over the Sporting Lisbon head coach role in 1992.

“The president brought along a bright young lad called José Mourinho, who said that he was to be my interpreter,” Robson added.

“A good looking guy; I told him not to stand next to me too many times! I knew he was keen and I knew, at one time, he would leave me.”


It wouldn’t be until 1997 that the pair separated, however, having gone on in the interim to work at Sporting, Porto and Barcelona together.

They  won two Primeira Division titles, a Portuguese Cup, the Portuguese and Spanish Super Cups, the Copa Del Rey and the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup, all before Robson’s tenure at the Nou Camp came to an end.

At the Nou Camp, Mourinho was an important influence between the coaching staff and the players – befriending a certain Pep Guardiola, then a key midfielder for the club, along the way.

Mourinho said of Robson: “One of the most important things I learnt from Bobby Robson is that when you win, you shouldn’t assume you are the team, and when you lose, you shouldn’t think you are rubbish.”


Following three more highly successful seasons working as assistant to Robson’s successor in Barcelona, Louis van Gaal, Mourinho moved to Benfica to work under another legendary coach in the form of German Jupp Heynckes.

Their partnership didn’t last long, however, and Mourinho took over the reins four games into the season to step into the first senior management role of his career.

Despite five wins, three draws and just two defeats in 10 games at the helm, Mourinho was caught up in the politics of presidential elections and left shortly after a statement 3-0 victory over rivals Sporting – just two and a half months into the role.

Mentor and apprentice: Jose Mourinho (l.) would go on to beat Louis van Gaal (c.) to the Champions League crown in 2010 and replace him as Manchester United coach six years later.


Mourinho was soon back in gainful employment with Uniao de Leiria, and took the side to fourth after 19 games of the 2001-02 campaign.

That caught the attention of Porto, who soon appointed Mourinho in what was the start of an incredible stint at the club, where they collected six trophies in Mourinho’s two-and-a-half years with the Dragons.

That included back-to-back league crowns in 2002-03 and 03-04, as well as Portuguese Cup and UEFA Cup titles in his first full season.

That European win – over Celtic – put his name on the radar in Britain, but it was an unforgettable touchline run and slide after Costinha had clinched a Champions League knockout stage victory over Manchester United at Old Trafford that really raised his profile on the Sceptred Isle.

When Porto went on and won the Champions League at the end of that season, with an emphatic 3-0 win over AS Monaco in the final, Mourinho’s reputation as the most exciting coach in world football was firmly rubber-stamped.


Amid intense demand for the signature of the ascendant star of European coaching, the recently reinvigorated Chelsea won the race and London became Mourinho’s next stop.

His impression would be immediate, with his debut in front of the cameras resulting in Mourinho uttering these now famous words: “I’m not one out of the bottle – I think I am a special one.”

‘The Special One’ moniker was born.


Mourinho’s impact in west London was just as instant as the club hoped it would be, as Chelsea lifted the Premier League trophy for the first time in their history at the end of his first campaign.

Community Shield, League Cup and FA Cup glory would all follow, as would a successive league win in 2004-05, the same season Mourinho was smuggled into his team’s changing rooms via a laundry basket in order to give a team talk to his players despite a touchline ban.




Chelsea and Mourinho parted ways for the first time in 2007, with his legend very much secured at Stamford Bridge.

A year on, Italy came calling and Mourinho landed at Inter Milan to craft an equally impressive legacy at the San Siro.


By 2010, Mourinho had bagged yet another pair of back-to-back league titles and added a second Champions League winners’ medal to his collection after seeing off former mentor Van Gaal in the final, as the Portuguese coach was named the first FIFA World Coach of the Year.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic said the Portuguese manager made him “feel like a lion”, while Wesley Sneijder added: “I was prepared to kill and die for him.”

“He works twice as hard as all the rest,” wrote Ibrahimovic in his autobiography. “[He] lives and breathes football 24/7.

“I’ve never met a manager with that kind of knowledge about opposing sides. It was everything, right down to the third-choice goalkeeper’s shoe size.”

Mourinho left Inter for Real Madrid at the end of the 2009-10 season, having completed a famous treble that again cemented his status as the best in the business. His efforts towards the end of that run – celebrating on the pitch after a semi-final win over his old friend turned nemesis Guardiola and Barcelona, his teary hugs with Marco Materazzi after the final as he prepared to leave – added new lore to his tale.

Mourinho led Inter to a famous treble in 2010 before leaving the club for Real Madrid.


Two years at the Bernabeu secured a fourth league win in a fourth different country, as well as both the Copa del Rey and Spanish Super Cup trophies.

The 2012-13 campaign would end in disappointment, however, with Mourinho describing it as “the worst season of my career” as Barca pipped Real in the league, they dropped out of the Champions League in the semi-finals, and city rivals Atletico Madrid beat them in the final of the Copa del Rey.

It would prove the end of Mourinho’s stay in the Spanish capital, although he nevertheless said he had “achieved his dream” by completing league title triumphs in England, Italy and Spain.




But he was soon back in England’s capital, and back among some familiar faces at Chelsea.

One of those was Frank Lampard who recently said of his former coach: “He’s the most loyal, the most caring manager I’ve ever worked with. I might be biased, because I love the man, but he does it instantly. He brings instant success.”


A year later, Mourinho – who travelled to Israel in 2005 to promote peace between the country and Palestine by hosting a football match with players from both countries as teammates on each side –  became a United Nations World Food Programme ambassador.

“Supporting the work of the World Food Programme on the frontlines of hunger is a personal decision about a cause that is very close to the hearts of me and my family,” Mourinho said at the time.

“If we can harness the spirit and the will to address the nutritional needs of the poor, then we have a real chance of ending hunger in our lifetimes.”




Mourinho’s second stint at Stamford Bridge ended in 2015, with the exiting coach undertaking one final Houdini smuggling act on his departure.

As reported by The Athletic‘s Dominic Fifield at the time: “With an elaborate decoy plan wrong-footing the media scrum outside, he departed the club’s training ground for the last time smuggled away in the boot of one of his assistant’s cars.”


After some flirting down the years, a stint in charge of Manchester United finally began in 2016, with Mourinho replacing his old mentor Van Gaal at Old Trafford.

“To become Manchester United manager is a special honour in the game,” said Mourinho. “It is a club known and admired throughout the world.”

After 18 months, Mourinho had won another Community Shield, a League Cup and the Europa League – taking his tally to 25 trophies during his coaching career so far.




Having left United in 2018, Mourinho somewhat surprisingly signed on as coach of Tottenham Hotspur a year later – and when time was called on Mourinho’s spell at Spurs, Roma moved quickly to secure the services of one of the most decorated coaches in the game’s history.

“After meetings with the ownership and Tiago Pinto, I immediately understood the full extent of their ambitions for AS Roma,” said Mourinho.

“It is the same ambition and drive that has always motivated me and together we want to build a winning project over the upcoming years.

“The incredible passion of the Roma fans convinced me to accept the job and I cannot wait to start next season.”

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