It’s fair to say that Jose Mourinho exploded into the public consciousness like a whirlwind. In 2003/04, as Porto’s little-known manager, he sidelined many of the game’s leading figures to lead the little-known Portuguese champions to a maiden Champions League title.
Since then, it has become synonymous with competition. He may have only won the tournament twice – the same amount as his contemporaries Sir Alex Ferguson and Pep Guardiola – but he sidelined himself by being one of five managers to do so with several clubs.
Mourinho truly belongs in the Champions League, and on his birthday we reflect on his adventures across the continent.
It is in this particular spotlight on the European stage more than any other that Mourinho has consistently demonstrated why he is at the box office and as enticing to watch, scrutinize and enjoy as the best footballers in the world. But why hasn’t it always peaked in terms of performance?
Porto – The Tourbillon
Before his appointment to Spurs, Mourinho had only taken over a club in the middle of a season once before, at Porto, to succeed Jupp Heynckes. He led the Dragões to their first-ever UEFA Cup success in his debut season and then backed it up with something even bigger.
A memorable last-minute goal at Old Trafford in the round of 16 to inflict misery on Manchester United sparked a famous moment, with Mourinho exploding out of the dugout and rolling down the touchline towards the east stand. A month later, he orchestrated a comprehensive 3-0 win over Didier Deschamps’ Monaco in the final.
Jose was understated after the final whistle, showing a remarkable amount of tact in simply letting the cameras capture the moment as his team celebrated while he pondered his next move…
Chelsea – The Special
A week after that first Champions League win with Porto in 2004, Mourinho was at Chelsea. On July 2, he faced the media from around the world at Stamford Bridge in a now legendary press conference. After the £150million-plus spending spree provided by Roman Abramovich’s bottomless pockets, the Blues’ new gaffer has spoken the words that have defined his career.
“Please don’t call me arrogant because what I’m saying is true. I am European champion. I think I’m a “Special One”.
Alas, he was destined never to become European champion with Chelsea, with his first tilt including a memorable collision with Frank Rijkaard’s Barcelona. A sideline ban for his behavior against the Catalans saw Mourinho resort to sneaking into the Chelsea dressing room in a laundry trolley when Bayern Munich arrived in town. The grudge with Barcelona, where he had previously played under Bobby Robson, would resurface later in his career.
A semi-final loss to Premier League rivals Liverpool via Luis Garcia’s ‘ghost goal’ in the second leg would prevent him from becoming defending champions, and it’s the same opponents who would stand in his way in the second leg. same stage two years later. Ironically enough, Chelsea would manage to reach their first Champions League final in the season they left, with Mourinho having left with a 49% win rate in Europe’s premier competition.
Inter Milan – The Perfect Storm
Notably, at Inter and Porto, Mourinho showed that he knew how to disconnect from a club. The two Champions League triumphs were his last chances in charge of the respective clubs, and both achieved historic hat-tricks.
Inter must have watched with envy as fierce rivals AC Milan won five since back-to-back Nerazzurri success in the mid-1960s. Not just a winning campaign, culminating in Bayern Munich’s loss to Madrid , provided Inter with the ultimate bragging rights by achieving a feat that no other Italian team had ever accomplished, but it also provided the iconic image of him.
Mourinho stormed onto the Camp Nou pitch after his Inter side upset the odds with 10 players, sticking his fingers into the night sky in an exceptional act of defiance towards the club who dubbed him ‘The Translator”.
Real Madrid – El Ego
Mourinho and Madrid seemed like a match made in heaven. With a new breed of Galacticos, who better to temper the ego of players like Cristiano Ronaldo than a man with an insatiable self?
Three years at the Santiago Bernabeu finally proved that his touch wasn’t entirely golden. Despite recording a 64% win rate in Europe, three times the Portuguese was unable to clear the penultimate Champions League hurdle with Los Blancos, including against his hated Barcelona in 2011 despite the Brobdingnagian wealth of the team he was in charge of. Bayern Munich got the better of him in 2012, and as soon as his side were knocked out by Borussia Dortmund in 2013, he revealed he had gone somewhere where he would be truly loved…
Chelsea Part II – Eat, Sleep, Repeat
The second marriage was even shorter than the first, with just over two seasons for Stamford Bridge to benefit from the new memorandum of understanding. The tenure brought another Premier League title, but it was the same old story in his Champions League saga with the west London club, reaching the semi-finals (again) in his debut season before falling to Diego Simeone’s conquering Atletico Madrid in La Liga. but heading to the round of 16 against the same opposition in the next one.
Once again, despite the reverence that still exists for Mourinho with some Chelsea fans, he never really delivered on the big stage.
Manchester United – The Boast
Mourinho led United to their first-ever Europa League triumph in his inaugural season with the Red Devils, but he couldn’t repeat his back-to-back Porto successes at Old Trafford. Mourinho only managed United for a season and a half in the Champions League, although it came on the most disappointing nights in the club’s illustrious European history on a cold night in March 2018 with a debilitating defeat against Sevilla at Old Trafford. He added to the misery by later bragging about times he had led opposing teams past United at the same stage in previous campaigns.
Just a month before losing his job at Old Trafford, Mourinho was at least once again in the headlines after a dramatic victory against Italian giants Juventus, a surprising act of defiance in which he again encroached on the ground, a perpetual growl on its sting. face, hand clasped to ear, feeling – and reveling – in the hatred of 40,000 angry Bianconeri supporters. Oh Jose!
Tottenham Hotspur – The unforgettable chapter…
Mourinho is a winner. His running tally equates to a staggering 20 trophies, including some of Europe’s most prized silverware, more than Spurs have won in their 140-year history, but he couldn’t bring that success to the club. In Europe, the Champions League round of 16 loss to RB Leipzig in their first season, before a shock exit to Dinamo Zagreb the following year ended their Europa League hopes at the same stage .
Although he led them to the League Cup final, the less said about that chapter the better.
Roma – The missing piece?
Jose Mourinho appears to be enjoying life at Roma and despite being sixth in Serie A, they won their group in the new Europa Conference League. This means they are straight through to the knockout stages and look like one of the strongest sides in the competition with Tammy Abraham on fire in front of goal. He won the Champions League, he won the Europa League, so it would be fitting for Mourinho to become the first manager to win the Europa Conference League and complete his collection.
It still belongs to Europe’s premier competition and has given us some of the most iconic moments in Champions League history.