Zlatan Ibrahimovic and 5 Other Players Who Love Jose Mourinho
Today is one of those days that Jose Mourinho likes best—because everybody is talking about him.
The Special One masterminded Chelsea's comeback against Paris Saint-Germain on Tuesday, with much praise being heaped on him for his tactics. French newspaper L'Equipe, in fact, went as far as calling him a "tactical genius."
After the game, Zlatan Ibrahimovic reminded us of the adoration that many international stars show for Mou. He leads our list of players who fawn over the Portuguese manager.
In the aftermath of Chelsea's victory over PSG, when Jose Mourinho was being interviewed for Chelsea TV, Zlatan Ibrahimovic strolled through the background.
Rather than wait until the interview had concluded, the Swedish striker dove straight in and wished Mou "good luck."
For this sporting gesture, he received a lovely hug from his former Internazionale manager.
Ibra's seminal autobiography, I Am Zlatan, contains almost as much praise for Mourinho as it does scorn for Pep Guardiola. Here's some choice quotes, via 101 Great Goals:
He formed an attachment to me even before we met. He would become a guy I was basically willing to die for.
I felt increasingly that this guy gives everything for the team, so I want to give everything for him. It was a quality he had. People were willing to kill for him.
No matter how happy I was going to Barca, it was sad to leave Mourinho. That guy is special.
Mourinho brought Wesley Sneijder to Internazionale in August 2009 for a fee of around €15 million.
Under the Portuguese coach, the Dutchman enjoyed one of his most successful seasons in the game, lifting the Italian treble and scoring a career-high 16 league goals.
On stage at the 2010 Ballon d'Or awards, Sneijder called Mourinho the "best coach in the world," almost moving the manager to tears.
Their friendship remains strong. Sneijder even refers to him for career advice. "I called him before my decision [to move to Galatasaray] because he's an important person in my career," he told ESPN. "I've asked his opinion and he gave me really good advice."
In his two seasons at Inter, Mourinho clearly made life-long bonds with some of his players. One such player was Marco Materazzi.
On the evening of the 2010 Champions League final, Mourinho knew he would be leaving the Italian side to head to the Bernabeu (which was, coincidentally, where the final was held). Before driving away from the stadium, Mou pulled over to give one last emotional hug to Materazzi.
The big centre-back was distraught at the thought of Mou's departure. Speaking on TV show Undici (via Goal.com), Materazzi admitted telling Mourinho, "Damn you for leaving me with Benitez."
Materazzi has since expressed his desire to join Mourinho's coaching staff at Chelsea, according to talkSPORT.
Michael Essien won the Premier League under Mourinho in 2006 and was brought to Real Madrid on loan where he was played as a makeshift defender.
The Ghanaian is full of praise for the Special One and seemed to believe he was actually his son. Why else would he constantly refer to him as "daddy"?
During his time at Real Madrid, Jose Mourinho managed to alienate a great deal of his players, including Iker Casillas and Sergio Ramos. However, Spanish teammate Xabi Alonso stayed loyal to the manager, according to El Mundo (via ESPN FC).
Alonso has often spoken of his respect for Mourinho and his ability to help with the psychological aspect of the game, per UEFA.com.
While at Chelsea, Didier Drogba and Jose Mourinho got on like a house on fire. Ever since they parted ways, neither of them has stopped making fawning comments about the other.
In a Champions League press conference last year, Mou told reporters that Drogba would be "a part of [his] life forever" and that they "created emotional links that are more than football," according to The Guardian. The foreword that Mourinho wrote in the Ivorian's autobiography was equally gushing.
When the pair met again last month for Chelsea's clash with Galatasaray, Drogba greeted his friend with a casual peck on the cheek.