When asked about the lasting effects of Tottenham’s Champions League heartache last season, instead of showing his compassionate side Jose Mourinho used the opportunity to remind us all that he has never had to suffer the torment of a final defeat.
Ask Mourinho about the Champions League and he will tell you it is the pinnacle, that it is even more important than the World Cup. The Portuguese boss has 20 major trophies to his name, but few, if any, mean more to him than his two Champions League winners’ medals.
And, having spent some of the past 11 months on the outside looking in, watching it, talking about it, analysing it, Mourinho must be mightily glad to be back at a club where there is Champions League football again. He will return to manage in the competition for the first time since his sacking from Manchester United on Tuesday, when his new Spurs side host Olympiakos.
Ahead of that match, these are some of his unforgettable moments throughout the years on Europe’s grandest stage.
Jose Mourinho will return to the Champions League on Tuesday after taking Tottenham job
Winning it against the odds… twice!
When reminiscing on Mourinho’s career, on everything he has accomplished, you will struggle to find anything that trumps his Champions League triumph with Porto, so unlikely was it.
Nobody would have even given that Porto side a puncher’s chance at the start of the campaign, but with Mourinho in their corner they pulled off the unthinkable to win just the second European Cup in their history.
Porto claimed some huge scalps on their way to glory in 2004 too, beating Manchester United, Lyon, Deportivo La Coruna and Monaco.
One of Mourinho’s greatest ever achievements was leading Porto to the trophy in 2004
PORTO SQUAD THAT WON THE CHAMPIONS LEAGUE IN 2004
Goalkeepers: Vitor Baia, Nuno
Defenders: Paulo Ferreira, Jorge Costa (c), Ricardo Carvalho, Nuno Valente, Ricardo Costa, Jose Bosingwa
Midfielders: Costinha, Pedro Mendes, Maniche, Pedro Emanuel, Dmitri Alenichev, Deco
Forwards: Carlos Alberto, Derlei, Edgaras Jankauskas, Benni McCarthy
Mourinho defied the odds again, winning the Champions League with Inter Milan in 2010
Six years later, Mourinho upset the odds again, this time with Inter Milan. It wasn’t quite the surprise he pulled with Porto, but it was still some feat.
Mourinho’s Inter will be best remembered for doing a job on Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona – widely considered the best team in the world at the time – but more on that later.
After knocking out the Spaniards in the semi-final, a double from the prolific Diego Milito against Louis van Gaal’s Bayern Munich in the final meant Mourinho lifted the trophy for a second time.
PORTO SQUAD THAT WON THE CHAMPIONS LEAGUE IN 2010
Goalkeepers: Julio Cesar, Francesco Toldo
Defenders: Maicon, Lucio, Walter Samuel, Cristian Chivu, Javier Zanetti (c), Ivan Cordoba, Marco Materazzi
Midfielders: Esteban Cambiasso, Wesley Sneijder, Dejan Stankovic, Sulley Muntari, McDonald Mariga
Forwards: Samuel Eto’o, Diego Milito, Goran Pandev, Mario Balotelli
That touchline sprint at Old Trafford
Of all the things he has done in his managerial career, there is perhaps no more iconic Mourinho moment than his celebration at Old Trafford.
The amusing thing about it now is that this was a pre-Mourinho world. Before he brought his Porto side to Manchester United, the Portuguese boss was unknown on these shores.
If he had done that in his first spell at Chelsea, few would have even bat an eyelid. In many ways, this was the beginning of our love affair or fascination with Mourinho.
Costinha celebrates with Maniche (R) after scoring in last minute against Manchester United
One of Mourinho’s most iconic moments is him sprinting down touchline to celebrate the goal
It was in the dying embers of the match and Porto were on the brink of exiting the Champions League. Benni McCarthy stood over a free-kick.
The striker, possibly conscious that this was their last opportunity, hit a tame effort at goal, but Tim Howard spilled it and Costinha pounced to turn in.
Mourinho leapt from his seat and sprinted down the touchline with his arms stretched out to celebrate with his players. It was a magic moment of pure emotion.
Being called the ‘enemy of football’
Jose Mourinho was called the ‘enemy of football’ for his role in the retirement of referee Anders Frisk.
Mourinho, then the Chelsea boss, wrongly accused Frisk of visiting Barcelona manager Frank Rijkaard at half-time during their last-16 first leg in 2005.
Frisk deiced to quit after receiving threats as a result of Mourinho’s comments, prompting the strong response from Volker Roth, chairman of UEFA’s Referees’ Committee.
Mourinho also said he wasn’t surprised that Didier Drogba was sent off in the 2-1 defeat afterwards and was subsequently fined £8,900, and given a two-match touchline ban for his conduct during the tie.
The Portuguese manager has certainly ruffled a few feathers in his time, but has maybe never angered someone quite to the point he did Roth.
Mourinho wrongly accused a referee of visiting Frank Rijkaard during Barcelona clash in 2005
The laundry basket
Now then, lets address the time Mourinho hid in a laundry basket.
The two-match suspension handed to Mourinho after that Barcelona game meant he would not be able to watch Chelsea’s quarter-final match with Bayern Munich inside the stadium.
However, this was Mourinho and Mourinho plays by his own rules. Instead of accepting his punishment, Mourinho plotted a cunning plan, which involved him hiding in a laundry basket despite being terrified of confined spaces.
Talking about it this year, Mourinho said: ‘I go to the dressing room during the day so I was there from midday and the game is seven o’clock. I just want to be in the dressing room when the players arrive.
The Portuguese boss hid in a laundry basket so he could speak to players during a stadium ban
‘I went there and nobody saw me. The problem was to leave after. And Stewart Bannister the kit man put me in the basket. It was a little bit open so I could breathe.
‘But when he is taking it outside the dressing room, the UEFA guys were following and desperate to find me so he closed the box and I couldn’t breathe! When he opened the box I was dying! I am serious! I was claustrophobic, I promise! It’s true!’
As part of his ban, Mourinho was also strictly forbidden from communicating with his staff. Well, there’s a story there too.
It was noted that Chelsea’s fitness coach Rui Faria was wearing an ill-fitting woolly hat and was spotted regularly scratching his ear. It led to suspicions that Mourinho was feeding Faria information through a hidden earpiece.
Win at all costs is one of those football cliches that gets drummed to death, but you can’t argue, when it comes to Mourinho, it fits… and better than Faria’s hat.
Rui Faria wore hat and kept scratching his ear, leading to suspicions he used a hidden earpiece
Mourinho’s ‘most beautiful defeat’
Jose Mourinho has often been accused of promoting anti-football.
But if he ends up ultimately winning, why would he care?
One of his greatest victories came in a defeat and in a game where his side finished with just 13.6 per cent possession and one shot.
The date was April 28, 2010. Inter Milan travelled to the Nou Camp for the second leg of their semi-final with Barcelona with a two-goal advantage, having won the first game 3-1.
Thiago Motta saw red after Sergio Busquets made a meal of an arm swung back
The mind games began before the match when Goran Pandev, who was originally named in the starting XI, was pulled from the team at the last minute and replaced by defender Cristian Chivu.
Determined to get over the finish line in anyway possible, Mourinho played three holding midfielders screening the back four and instructed his men to park the bus from the off.
It was a dangerous and brave tactic with players like Lionel Messi, Xavi and Pedro around who thrive on having the ball at their feet.
Mourinho’s job was then made significantly tougher when Thiago Motta controversially saw red in the 28th minute after Sergio Busquets made a meal of an arm that was swung back to protect the ball.
Inter Milan’s resolve was finally broken when Gerard Pique scored with six minutes remaining
The Inter boss sarcastically applauded the decision from the touchline. Inter were camped out in their own half for virtually the entire match while their goal was bombarded with shots.
Somehow the Italian side frustrated Barcelona up until Gerard Pique got the breakthrough six minutes from time to set up a nervy finish.
Inter held out for the remaining minutes to stun the Nou Camp and book their place in the final at the expense of the winners from the previous year.
It was a defensive masterclass from Mourinho, who later described it as ‘the most beautiful defeat of my life’.
Mourinho and Samuel Eto’o (R) storm the pitch in celebration after knocking Barcelona out
A notable mention
The victory at Juventus felt like a turning point for Mourinho at Manchester United.
It wasn’t, as he was sacked just a month later.
But it was another win in the Champions League that was followed by a classic Mourinho moment.
Having taken stick for much of the game, Mourinho let the Juventus fans have a taste of their own medicine, cupping his ear as he walked on to the pitch at the final whistle.
His United side had been trailing up until the 86th minute courtesy of a strike from Cristiano Ronaldo, but staged an unlikely last-gasp turnaround with Juan Mata and Leonardo Bonucci’s own goal snatching victory from the jaws of defeat.
Mourinho cups his ear after his Manchester United side left it late to win at Juventus