On 22 May 2010 outside the Estadio Santiago Bernabéu in Madrid, a peculiar scene was taking place. The hardest Coach around in Josè Mourinho was just a few centimetres from one the hardest players around in Marco Materazzi. It was unusual because it wasn’t a verbal confrontation as often played out during the second half of the season in the Nerazzurri’s changing room as the Portuguese Coach expertly applied his unwritten rule of keeping the players on edge. No, it was because they were in one another’s arms in tears saying their goodbyes.
The Portuguese had decided to leave and therefore didn’t feel that he could return to Milan and the fans. Instead, he let the team go back with their cup, the trophy that had been missing for 45 years which had perfectly crowned off the best season ever for a professional Italian side. The Champions League followed the Coppa Italia which followed the Scudetto. Mou was able to pull off the feat thanks to extraordinary players but also with his incredible winning attitude that he’d shown through his career. He was crazy about tactics and a tireless student of the game. He built his fortunes on his understanding with the players that he trained. Some would call it carrot and stick. Dejan Stankovic was incredulous when he was given a week’s holiday halfway through the season when things weren’t going well in order to relax. He came back a warrior ready to make sacrifices for the cause.
He won titles on the pitch and generated titles in the newspapers. From the famous quote “I’m not an idiot” upon arrival at Appiano Gentile to “intellectual prostitution,” and the “noise from the enemies” who finished with “zero titles.” Communication is an art rather than a trade and José knew it full well, perhaps less so those who tried to emulate him. There was only one Mourinho and he’d made his choice. To put in his own words: “Once an Interista, always an Interista.”