There have been some excellent footballing sides across Europe over the years, but there’s one that stands out above all others for Jose Mourinho, and the Portuguese’s choice could be seen as a little surprising.
Before he made his name as the ‘Special One’ at Porto, Chelsea, Inter Milan and Real Madrid, Mourinho was Sir Bobby Robson’s assistant at Barcelona, and latterly Louis van Gaal’s understudy there.
Despite appearing to have a vendetta against the club in recent years, which could be attributed to Barca preferring Pep Guardiola as coach back in 2008, it is the Catalan’s philosophy that Mourinho appears to enjoy the most.
“I learned a lot at Barca, they have an incredible philosophy,” he said to Hupu.com and cited by Sport.
“That period at Barca was like a fusion of everything. I worked with two of the best coaches in the world and I was able to stand side by side with some of the best footballers of that generation in a club with an incredible philosophy of playing, working and competing.
“In that period I was there with the best […] It was nice to work with players like Stoickhov, Figo or Ronaldo and with two great technicians like Robson and Van Gaal.”
Before Leo Messi was in his pomp, and even prior to the Ronaldinho years, Barcelona still had some special players, and clearly Mourinho liked being amongst them.
Although he was very much in the background at the Camp Nou, he was an important member of staff, and arguably, it was during this period of his career when he began to hone the skills that would serve him so well later on in his managerial journey.