This wonderful heartwarming story about Jose Mourinho and a lifelong Real Madrid fan will undoubtedly change your perception of the Portuguese boss.
According to The Telegraph via Sports Illustrated, in 2013, during his time as Real Madrid boss, Jose Mourinho helped one Real Madrid super-fan achieve his lifelong dreams of seeing the Portuguese ace in charge of Los Blancos in the hotly-anticipated El Clasico.
The unbelievable tale ended with the fan becoming a part of Mourinho’s backroom staff for Madrid’s Champions League Round of 16 victory against Manchester United at Old Trafford.
The story is about Abel Rodriguez, a cleaner from California who would take two weeks unpaid holiday to volunteer at Madrid’s annual training camp in Los Angeles. Rodriguez would arrange the cones for Mourinho’s training sessions.
Rodriguez’s volunteering made him fall in love with the Bernabeu outfit even more, so much so that he decided to withdraw his life savings and book a trip to Madrid in a bid to watch Mourinho manage in the El Clasico before he’d leave Los Blancos.
Rodriguez’s pursuit of his dream meant that he was unable to afford a holiday for his family.
Rodriguez booked his trip and jetted off to Madrid, however the Los Blancos enthusiast arrived at Madrid’s training ground with no accommodation for his stay, no ticket for the March 3 clash against Barcelona and also no contact details for Mourinho.
Rodriguez was denied entry to Madrid’s training base by the club’s security staff and the Californian waited on the side of the road in snowy conditions in a last-ditch attempt to flag down Mourinho.
Rodriguez had to wait five hours in these conditions before Mourinho arrived and recognised him, the former Porto, Inter Milan, Chelsea and Manchester United boss couldn’t believe what the American was doing in the Spanish capital.
After Rodriguez told the boss of his whirlwind story, Mourinho immediately called for an assistant to arrange for Rodriguez to stay at the same hotel as the Madrid team would be. The pair enjoyed dinner with the rest of Mourinho’s staff prior to the game the next evening.
During dinner, Mourinho stunned Rodriguez by insisting that he join the Spanish giants on their trip to England to face Manchester United in the Champions League. Rodriguez offered to pay his own way but Mourinho replied saying:
“When you’re with me in Europe, you don’t pay for s***.”
After watching Madrid’s 2-1 El Clasico victory, Rodriguez was awarded with the official role as the team’s bag handler and coaching assistant ahead of the trip to Manchester.
Just when Rodriguez thought things couldn’t get any better, he was approached by Manchester United star Javier Hernandez, the forward revealed that he’d give his shirt to his compatriot Rodriguez at the end of the game.
Rodriguez couldn’t understand how Hernandez had heard of his tale, it was later revealed that Mourinho approached the star before the game and asked for this favour.
After the game, Rodriguez shared a moment with the great Sir Alex Ferguson. The Scotsman told Rodriguez to tell Mourinho to meet Ferguson for a post-match glass of wine.
Following the final whistle, Rodrigues also helped United star Robin van Persie swap shirts with Los Blancos ace Marcelo.
This is a tale for the ages.
News of Mourinho’s classy gesture first hit the headlines in April of 2013, but this Twitter user reminded football fans of the touching story yesterday morning:
I have not met Jose mourinho but i have read one interesting thing which i would like to share here. It is of a time when Mourinho was Real Madrid's manager.
— Valyrian (@ValyrianCA) May 28, 2019
Football is a truly amazing sport.