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Sports Then and Now

The Special One

Posted on February 26, 2014 by Martin Banks

In the home stretch of a Premier League title race, Jose Mourinho has Chelsea FC in the hunt for two prominent trophies, which is nothing new. Now in his second spell with the English soccer club, the self-proclaimed “Special One” is undoubtedly one of the most prominent names in coaching.


Never one to bite his tongue, Mourinho’s time as manager of some of the world’s best teams has been accompanied by a fair share of controversy and scuff ups, but success has rarely eluded the Portuguese man. And while we get ready to witness what ending this season has in store for Chelsea, let’s take a look at the managerial career of the loved and hated manager.

Making a Name in Portugal

For the Portuguese man, it was only natural to begin his managerial career in his home country. After assistant positions with Sporting CP, Porto and Barcelona, Mourinho landed his first job in charge of a club at Benfica in 2000. But after a very short time there and a disagreement with the new club president, Mourinho left to become manager of Uniao de Leira. While in charge of Uniao for over a year, Mourinho took the club to its best ever finishes in the first division of Portugal.

Mourinho really made a name for himself when he moved to Porto for two seasons, where he won the Portuguese first division title, the Portuguese Cup and the UEFA Cup final all in his first year. In his second year with Porto, Mourinho shocked the world when he won the most coveted trophy in club soccer—the UEFA Champions League—along with another Portuguese first division title.

Dominance in England

Winning the EUFA Champions League made Mourinho a very sought-after manager, prompting his move to Chelsea in London where he dubbed himself the “Special One”. In his first period at the club, from 2004 to 2008, Mourinho made Chelsea into a powerhouse. He won back to back English Premier League titles along with several English cup victories.

Along the way, the Portuguese manager was a lightning rod for the media. He was involved in a constant rivalry with Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson and made several enemies, including much of the English media, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger and possibly even his own boss—Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich.

After leaving London amidst friction with Abramovich, Mourinho would become manager of two more major clubs in Europe before returning to Chelsea.

Treble in Italy

Next up for Mourinho would be Italian club Internazionale, where he spent two seasons. In his opening season with Inter, he would win the Serie A title, but the next year would be his finest. In 2010, Mourinho would win a rare treble with Inter by defeating AS Roma for the Italian cup, finishing top of the Serie A table and defeating Bayern Munich 2-0 in the Champions League final. With his sustained and mounting success, Mourinho would continue to make headlines and enemies.

Classic Club in Spain

With all of Mourinho’s accomplishments in Europe, there was only one place to go—Real Madrid. The appeal from Mourinho’s point of view easily understandable, with Real Madrid being as classic as 1965 Mustang Parts. As one of the world’s most historic and successful clubs, Real Madrid acquired Mourinho’s services in the hopes of reasserting dominance over Spanish rivals Barcelona, who had been enjoying a period of unhindered triumph.

After a difficult first season, Mourinho was able to establish Real Madrid as a world power once again while he maintained a strained relationship with the Spanish media. He won the La Liga title in 2012 and reached the Champions League semi-final round in each of his three years in Madrid before returning to Chelsea, where he is currently managing. He continues to verbally feud with Wenger along with some new adversaries. The famous Portuguese man now has the club at the top of the Premier League table and in the knockout round of the Champions League. It’s been a historic run for Mourinho, and we can’t wait to see what he does next.

Scott Huntington is a sports writer specializing in sports history.  Follow Scott at @SMHuntington

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