Former Chelsea and Real Madrid midfielder Michael Essien enjoyed two spells working under Jose Mourinho, and the Portuguese tactician has paid a major tribute to him.
The Ghanian ace joined the Blues in 2005, making over 250 appearances for the club while winning two Premier League titles, four FA Cups and the Champions League.
Although not all of those trophies came during Mourinho’s time at Stamford Bridge, he undoubtedly played a fundamental part in Essien’s career and the success that he enjoyed thereafter.
Further, he also joined him in Madrid in 2012, featuring 35 times for Los Blancos. It’s during that period where Essien seemingly endured himself to Mourinho further as he spoke about the midfield ace putting himself through the pain barrier to play despite being dogged by knee troubles.
“He was not my player, he is my son – I am his white daddy,” Mourinho told Astro Supersport, as reported by The Daily Mail. “He made me fall in love with Ghana, with Accra where he lived, because then I had a better understanding of his mentality.
“He was ready for everything, he was ready to die for the fellow players, for the club, for the manager, why he was ready to play like he did for me at Real Madrid with a knee that was not a knee anymore.”
Mourinho has never been shy to publicly slam his players when they fall short of his demands, just as Luke Shaw has found out at Man Utd over the last two seasons, as noted by The Telegraph in one instance.
However, Essien was evidently at the other end of that spectrum, as Mourinho clearly valued his commitment and determination highly having played a key role in his early success in England and having been an important part of his Madrid squad too.
Question marks may well be raised over Mourinho’s choice of words above, but the sentiment is clear as the pair undoubtedly share a close relationship after working together.