Jose Mourinho: The ‘Special One’ Who Shattered Records All Over Europe

Jose Mourinho is number 9 in 90min’s Top 50 Great Managers of All Time series. Follow the rest of the series over the course of the next two weeks. You can find out what Jose’s All-Time Best XI is ​here.

Love him or hate him, you can’t deny that Jose Mourinho is one of the greatest managers of all time.

​One of the most polarising figures in the history of management, Mourinho has won fans and made enemies across Europe, but his enormous trophy cabinet is proof of his pedigree.

After his unspectacular playing career came to an end, Mourinho found his way into management under the legendary Bobby Robson. The Englishman had taken charge of Sporting CP in 1992, and Mourinho was brought in as his interpreter.

It quickly became clear to Robson that Mourinho was more than just a walking dictionary. He had an intriguing football brain, and Robson often asked for opinions and tactical analysis from Mourinho.

The pair enjoyed successful spells with Sporting, Porto and ​Barcelona, before Mourinho was handed his first taste of management with Benfica. 

His time in charge of the club was the perfect example of what we would come to expect from Mourinho. On the pitch, his team played a stunning brand of football, but his clashes with club officials ultimately saw him leave after just nine games.

He continued to build his reputation with Uniao de Lairia and caught the attention of Porto, and it was here that Mourinho propelled himself onto the global stage.

With Porto struggling before his arrival, Mourinho implemented his intelligent and scientific style on the team and quickly reversed their fortunes. By the time his first full season came around, his preference for quick, high-pressing football had swept the nation, and the trophies began flooding in.

Career Honours

​Primeira Liga (2002/03, 2003/04)
​Taca de Portugal (2002/03)
​Supertaca Candido de Oliveira (2003)
​UEFA Champions League (2003/04, 2009/10)
​Premier League (2004/05, 2005/06, 2014/15)
​FA Cup (2006/07)
​League Cup (2004/05, 2006/07, 2014/15, 2016/17)
​Community Shield (2005, 2016)
​Serie A (2008/09, 2009/10)
​Coppa Italia (2009/10)
​La Liga (2011/12)
​Copa del Rey (2010/11)
​Supercopa de Espana (2012)
 ​​Europa League (2016/17)

Success in both the Primeira Liga and UEFA Cup was great, but it was Porto’s ​Champions League victory in 2004 which dominated headlines. En route to the final, Mourinho became somewhat of a cult hero when he sprinted down the touchline to celebrate a win over Sir Alex Ferguson’s ​Manchester United, which was the ultimate proof of his charisma.

This personality, coupled with his ability to mastermind impressive victory after impressive victory, made Mourinho a wanted man, and it was ​Chelsea who ultimately won the race for his signature in the summer of 2004.

During his first press conference (via ​BBC Sport), Mourinho uttered the now-iconic line: “Please don’t call me arrogant, but I’m a European champion and I think I’m a special one.”

With Roman Abramovich, and his chequebook, at the helm, Mourinho recruited the likes of Ricardo Carvalho, Didier Drogba and Michael Essien, constructing a team capable of dominating English football for years to come.

Chelsea's Ivorian forward Didier Drogba

Against lesser sides, Mourinho’s Chelsea would dominate. However, it was their performance against stronger opposition which won him even more fans. Regardless of the opponent, Mourinho could concoct a specific tactic to neutralise even the best players in the world, and his players were all good enough to put those plans into action.

Unsurprisingly, they waltzed to the ​Premier League title. Nobody could hold a candle to Chelsea, who shattered numerous records in the process. His side conceded just 15 league goals all season, which is almost hard to comprehend.

The success continued in the 2005/06 season, but the following campaign saw his empire begin to crumble. Clashes with Abramovich over the signing of Andriy Shevchenko from ​AC Milan created a real sense of unease around Stamford Bridge, which ultimately cost him his job in September 2007.

A move to Italy followed, with Mourinho joining ​Inter in the summer of 2008. Unlike with Chelsea, Mourinho was not particularly active in the transfer market during his first season, yet still managed to guide the Nerazzurri to the ​Serie A title.

Inter Milan's Portuguese coach Jose Mour

Instead of blockbuster signings, he focused on integrating academy stars like Mario Balotelli and Davide Santon in his side, proving that he did not need big names to succeed with his brand of football. It wasn’t about players, it was about flawless tactics.

However, he returned to the transfer market the following summer to recruit the likes of Diego Milito, Samuel Eto’o and Wesley Sneijder, in the hope that Inter would be able to compete for the Champions League, which they would go on to win in emphatic fashion.

The 2009/10 season was perhaps the perfect snapshot of Mourinho’s career. He steered Inter to an incredible treble, whilst simultaneously criticising opposing managers, referees and rival fans for days on end. It was everything we have come to expect from the boss.

​Real Madrid were clearly not concerned by his conduct and agreed a record-breaking compensation package to lure Mourinho to the Santiago Bernabeu that summer. However, it was here that Mourinho suffered arguably one of the worst results of his career.

Teams Managed

​Benfica (2000)
​Uniao de Leiria (2001-02)
​Porto (2002-04)
​Chelsea (2004-07, 2013-15)
​Inter (2008-10)
​Real Madrid (2010-13)
​Manchester United (2016-18)

Just months after his arrival, Mourinho’s Real were thumped 5-0 by rivals ​Barcelona, and the Portuguese tactician was simply unable to counter the potent attacking threat of the Blaugrana. He got his revenge in that season’s Copa del Rey final, but there were still concerns about his first season in Madrid.

However, as he so often does, Mourinho bounced back in emphatic fashion and secured the ​La Liga title at the expense of Pep Guardiola’s superhuman Barcelona side. They shattered countless records, such as most games won, most points won and most goals scored. If you were in any doubt, this Real team were the real deal.

Unfortunately, things broke down just as quick. His relationships with key players like Iker Casillas, ​Cristiano Ronaldo and ​Sergio Ramos broke down, and clashes with club officials ultimately saw Mourinho leave Madrid in 2013 and return to Chelsea.

No longer the ‘Special One’ but the self-proclaimed ‘Happy One’, Mourinho went about sculpting Chelsea into his desired form, taking a year to get to know his players. However, it was during this traditional year that his stunning home record came to an end.


A 2-1 defeat to Sunderland in 2014 brought an end to his 78-game undefeated run at Stamford Bridge. 78 games. To this day, no manager has come even close to matching that record in the Premier League.

Recruiting ​Diego Costa and ​Cesc Fabregas signalled Mourinho’s intent for the 2014/15 season. He knew what he work working with and moved quickly to address the weaknesses in his squad and, yet again, Mourinho steered Chelsea to the Premier League title. It’s getting hard to keep track of all this silverware.

However, yet again things spiralled out of control quickly. He was unceremoniously sacked by December, with the club perilously near the bottom of the league table, and he eventually found his way to Old Trafford with ​Manchester United in 2016.

By this time, controversy was part of Mourinho’s diet. Yet, so was success. An unconventional treble of the Community Shield, EFL Cup and Europa League followed in his first season, as Mourinho proved he still had what it took to mastermind a plan.


In fact, it was a 2-0 victory over league leaders Chelsea in April 2017 which brought that to the world. He designed a perfect strategy to neutralise ​Eden Hazard, and the Belgian was about as ineffective as we have ever seen. Mourinho just knew how to win games, regardless of opposition.

He led United to second in the Premier League in the 2017/18 campaign, but soon lost control of the Red Devils. Their slump in form saw him dismissed in December 2018, but even his replacement, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, could not save things.

Mourinho’s career has been full of incredible highs and shocking lows. Recent seasons have tarnished his reputation slightly but, when it comes to pure winners, they don’t come better than Mourinho.

His tactics were revolutionary and inspiring, and rarely have we seen a manager who simply understands football like him. To achieve unprecedented success with a number of different sides is nothing short of extraordinary, and Mourinho certainly changed the way many fans view football.

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