Jose ‘knew’ Inter would win the Champions League after beating Barcelona, and in talking about it compares his different experiences manning different clubs.
“I was at my best in my career when I felt at home, where I could feel the emotions of my group, where I was 200 per cent in it with my heart,” Mourinho told La Gazzetta dello Sport.
“That’s why, on May 22 in Madrid, I was content to experience the happiness of others, all the way from [President Massimo] Moratti to the people working in the warehouse.
“I had already won a Champions League. I used to think of myself first and then the others: at Inter, it was never like that.
“Ten years later, we are all together again. Just the other day I spoke to Alessio. In my time, he was the driver. Where and when does it happen that a coach who leaves, ten years later still talks to the driver? Never. That’s Inter for me, this is my people.
“In a family, when you become a father, you understand that someone is more important than you and that you move into second place.”
In 2010, Inter completed the historic Treble with a 2-0 victory over Bayern Munich in the Champions League Final.
Mourinho didn’t go back to Milan after winning the title, in fear of changing his mind about moving to Real Madrid the following summer:
“If I had returned from Madrid to Milan, with the team around and the fans who would have chanted: ‘Jose stay here with us’, perhaps I would never have left.
“I hadn’t already signed with Real Madrid before the Final. Someone said that Real came to our hotel before the Final, but that’s not true.
“I wanted to go to Real, they wanted me the year before. I went to Moratti’s house to tell him and he stopped me from going. I had already rejected Real when I was at Chelsea and you can’t say no three times to Madrid.
“I had decided to leave after the second semi-final against Barcelona because I knew I would win the Champions League.
“I had prepared Moratti: without words, the temperature of our embrace on the pitch made him understand what I wanted.
“He said: ‘After this, you have the right to leave’. It was correct to do what I wanted, not to be happy. In fact, I was happier in Milan than in Madrid.”
The 57-year-old thrived as an enemy of Inter’s ‘wept’ and wondered if, at the time of the famous embrace between two heroes, God had put defender Materazzi against the wall.
“Our noisy enemies, who then wept, was beautiful. The tremor was stronger than the noise and if you think about it, it’s the same thing.
“When there’s noise, it’s because there is fear. I got out of the car to embrace [Marco] Materazzi because he was the symbol of the sadness in all of us, and of what a team player must be.
“When the team needed him – Chelsea, Roma, Siena – he was there. I’m a catholic and I believe in these things. Maybe it was God who put him there against that wall, as the last player I saw.”
He says that hugging Marco Materazzi meant ’embracing all the Nerazzurri players:
“By hugging him, I embraced all my players. And I say one thing: it makes me wonder why someone like him – as a coach, manager, warehouse worker, driver, I don’t know – is not at Inter.
“Why did I stop saying that I will return to Inter one day? I know why you are asking me this question, I’m not stupid.”
The Portuguese tactician and new Tottenham Hotspur coach thus talked to La Gazzetta dello Sport about his relationship with the club and the players and why he left immediately after the campaign.
Yet he acknowledges that it wasn’t all rosy during his stay at the Giuseppe Meazza, and confesses that he occasionally crossed a line. He admits that he was ‘harsh’ on his squad:
“There are other relationships too: I coach, you play. Empathy depends on the ability to accept me as I am. It’s like a puzzle.
“At Inter, there were people waiting for someone like me to complete that puzzle. I’m never fake, I’m original: it’s me, and that’s that.
“I was also harsh, but it was me. Especially after the defeat in Bergamo [3-1 in January, 2009]. I was very violent with the players, right after having told them that they had won the Scudetto of poor performances.
“I understood that I had hurt them, because only afterwards I understood the things that had happened before, and I apologised.”