Jose Mourinho has coached some of the biggest stars in world football during his iconic managerial career.
From John Terry, Frank Lampard and Didier Drogba at Chelsea to Sergio Ramos, Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema at Real Madrid, the Special One is accustomed to dealing with elite-level talents and sizeable egos after spending over two decades in the dugout.
But who is the best player he has never had the privilege of managing?
Mourinho, who recently took charge of Roma following his sacking from Tottenham earlier this year, didn’t even have to think twice when asked this question in an interview with James Corden for The Sun : “[Lionel] Messi.”
Nevertheless, that may not have been the case had Barcelona not snubbed him back in 2008.
Following Frank Rijkaard’s departure at the Nou Camp, Barca chiefs were on the hunt for a new boss and reportedly invited Mourinho for an interview shortly after his own exit from Chelsea.
He is said to have laid on a detailed PowerPoint presentation in an attempt to land the job in Catalonia, but in the end his application was not successful.
Arch-rival Pep Guardiola was instead appointed and the rest is history; with Messi going on to become one of the best players on the planet under the former Barca midfielder, who guided the club to three Spanish titles and two Champions Leagues before leaving in 2012.
Mourinho still enjoyed his own success, inspiring Inter Milan’s Serie A and Champions League triumph in 2010 before heading to Real Madrid and ending Guardiola’s dominance.
He led Real to the Copa del Rey in his first season, beating Barca in the final, and then went one better by pipping them to the Spanish title a year later.
The Portuguese has since taken charge of Chelsea for a second time, before brief stints with Premier League rivals Manchester United and Tottenham.
But when asked by Corden for the best football match he has ever been a part of, Mourinho opted for one that came earlier in his career.
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“Benfica and Porto,” he said. “That game for us Portuguese is everything. It is tribal, North versus South.”
Mourinho rose to fame after his successful spell at Porto, where he claimed two Portuguese titles, the UEFA Cup and the Champions League before leaving for Chelsea in 2004.
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