Jose Mourinho called himself a “special one” when he arrived for his first spell in charge at Chelsea nine years ago. Today he said he’s “the happy one” after returning to the Premier League soccer team.
The Portuguese coach, 50, was speaking to more than 200 journalists at a televised news conference from the west London club, which he rejoined last week from Real Madrid.
“I am the happy one, I am very happy,” he said when asked if he was still special. “Time flies. A lot of things happened in my professional life in the last nine years, but I have the same nature, I am the same person, I have the same heart, I have the same kind of emotions related to my passion for football and my job, but I am a different person in this moment.”
Speaking in a more subdued tone than at his 2004 arrival, he said, “it’s the first time I arrive in a club where I already love the club.”
Mourinho, who has a four-year contract, guided Chelsea to two league titles in his first three-year tenure, along with one F.A. Cup and two League Cups. He said he can better that.
“You never know but I want to believe it’s possible. I always trust my work,” he said. “I know many of the people that belong to the club and I know the kind of mentality people have here. My career was built and based on success where I was able to win trophies. I want everyone to work hard, work with quality. The club means much more compared to ourselves. We are no one without the club. If we work well, success will arrive.”
Mourinho left Chelsea in September 2007 after media reports of clashes with billionaire owner Roman Abramovich. He denied today that there’d been a breakdown in relations.
“That’s not true. I read and I keep hearing that I was fired, I was sacked, we had a complete breakdown of our relationship. That was not true,” he said. “Many didn’t believe that but it was a mutual agreement. We thought it was best for both of us, for me and the club.”
He said he didn’t regret the decision to leave as he had “probably the best moment of my career” at Inter Milan, which he led to the 2010 Champions League title.
“For Chelsea things went well too, after that Chelsea were European champions for the first time,” he said.
He said he’s returned to Chelsea and Abramovich “because we are in the best moments of our careers and ready to work together again. There are much better conditions at this time to succeed and have what we want, stability.”
Mourinho originally moved to Chelsea from Porto, where he won the Champions League in 2004. At Inter, he won two league titles and the Italian Cup as well as the Champions League.
In 2010 he switched to Real Madrid, leading the team to the 2011-12 La Liga championship to end a three-year streak by Barcelona, which regained the title last season. He also led the club to three straight Champions League semifinals.
He left Real after his third season, when the record nine-time European champion didn’t win a major trophy. As well as failing to retain its Spanish league title, it lost to Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League semifinals and was defeated by Atletico Madrid in the Copa del Rey final.
At Stamford Bridge, Mourinho replaces interim manager Rafael Benitez, who won the Europa League this year but was never accepted by Blues fans after his time at Liverpool. Benitez was one of seven managers who’ve come and gone since Mourinho’s first spell.
The Spaniard was appointed as interim manager last November after the firing of Roberto Di Matteo, who won the Champions League last year. Chelsea then became the first titleholder eliminated in the group stage the following season. The Blues dropped into the Europa League, where they beat Benfica for the title May 15. They also finished third in the Premier League to qualify for next season’s Champions League. Benitez has since joined Napoli.