“I was 9 or 10 years old and my father was sacked on Christmas Day. He was a manager, the results had not been good, he lost a game on December 22 or 23. On Christmas Day, the telephone rang and he was sacked in the middle of our lunch.”
José Mário dos Santos Mourinho Félix or José Mourinho as we all know him, will never forget the day his father got sacked, the daunting news that put a downer on there family christmas lunch. But the news that his dad received on that day did not deter José from pursuing a coaching career of his own but in fact in did quite the opposite, it served as motivation.
The legend himself would tell you that he wasn’t the strongest of players, but he knew that that wasn’t his career choice, he wanted to be a manager with all his heart. His first chance came as a youth team coach at Vitória Setúbal. After the success as the youth team coach he was offered an assistant manager position at Estrela da Amadora.
In 1992 Bobby Robson joined as manager for Sporting Clube de Portugal and not being able to speak any Portuguese he needed a translator, and with José ingrained in the community and able to speak English fluently he was the man for the job.
“He’d come back and hand me a dossier that was absolutely first class,” Robson said, speaking in 2005. “[They were] As good as anything I’d received. Here he was, in his early-30s, never been a player or a coach to speak of, giving me reports as good as anything I ever got.”
After Robson got sacked for the first time in his career, he was offered a job at Porto and with José doing such a fantastic job, Robson had no choice but to take the 30 year old with him.
Robson and Mourinho enjoyed tremendous success with Porto, and later the pair would do even more at Barcelona going on to complete a cup treble by winning the Champions league, the Copa del Rey and the Spanish Super Cup.
After Robson got the title of General Manager at the club, Mourinho would spend a short term under the wings of Louis van Gaal who took the reigns at Barcelona. After Van Gaal got the sack Mourinho grew sick and tired of playing second fiddle and decided it was his time. He joined Benfica as head coach.
“When I spoke with van Gaal about going back to Portugal to be an assistant at Benfica,’ Mourinho remembers, “he said: ‘No, don’t go. Tell Benfica if they want a first-team coach you will go; if they want an assistant you will stay’.”
To this day, Mourinho remains indebted to Sir Bobby Robson, whose gradual loosening of the reins allowed the perfect opportunity for the would-be manager to flex his coaching muscles, offering him incremental exposure to the realities of club management. “I owe him for so much,” said Mourinho of his former boss. “I was nobody in football when he came to Portugal. He helped me to work in two clubs here and took me to one of the biggest clubs in the world. We are very different but I got from him the idea of what it is to be a top coach.”
Check out: thesefootballtimes.co