A ‘special’ win indeed!

DUBAI - The connoisseurs of the beautiful game may never give him the thumbs up, but the ‘Special One’ will still have no regrets. Jose Mourinho never wanted to become a coach to please the aesthetes who drool over the temptress called ‘one-touch football’.

By Rituraj Borkakoty

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Published: Tue 25 May 2010, 12:04 AM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 4:27 AM

Mourinho’s philosophy has always been simple. He just wants to win. Playing pretty football is not his cup of tea. He doesn’t encourage his players to do fancy things with the ball. In his world, it’s all about building a fortress. If he is playing a better team, he sees no shame in putting 11 men behind the ball. So what if he has an African predator called Samuel Eto’o. During his time at Stamford Bridge, Mourinho had even made Didier Drogba turn his sword into a shield. Chelsea never played elegant football. But Mourinho made them winners.

On an unforgettable Saturday night in Madrid when Inter Milan fans’ joy knew no bounds, Mourinho was uncharacteristically subdued. He didn’t jump. After hurting the pride of the German giants, he didn’t punch the air. He didn’t scream. He was calm after giving Inter fans the taste of European victory for the first time in 45 years.

Of course Bayern Munich dominated possession. They did so because they had run out of options. Mourinho knows the art of forcing his rivals to press the panic button. His opponents often look like those lost souls for whom the search for water never ends in a desert. It’s a beautiful trap. Had the Portuguese been a general in a war, he would have guided the cornered soldiers to the unlikeliest of victories. Nobody can build an unbreachable wall the way he does.

And yes, he had the players who were ready to die on the field. Maicon, Walter Samuel, Lucio, Esteban Cambiasso and Julio Cesar fought like gladiators. And then he had the ageless Javier Zanetti for whom the Champions League title could not have come at a more appropriate time. The captain was playing his 700th match for the Nerazzurri in Madrid.

The Argentine is getting better with age. And yet Diego Maradona remains blind to his versatility. Zanetti and Cambiasso were immense during a season in which Inter became the first Italian team to win three trophies. Even club president Massimo Moratti was hurt when Maradona refused to include the two players in his World Cup team. “It’s a crime against football,” Moratti cried.

On Saturday night though, the president couldn’t stop smiling. The Italian oil tycoon was only 20-year-old when Inter won their second European title in 1965. The drought was so long and the dominance of their greatest rivals, Milan, was so emphatic that Inter had to suffer in silence. But when the match-fixing scandal hit Milan and Juventus hard in 2006, Inter finally found their voice, winning three consecutive Serie A titles. But it was the European glory that Moratti craved and his decision to bring Mourinho to San Siro will now make him the fans’ most favourite club president of all time.

The ambitious Mourinho has other ideas though. He admitted that the Champions League final match was his last as Inter manager and that he would join Real Madrid in the summer.

“When I win I don’t stop and here (in Italy) I have won everything. I’ve won the Champions League with two clubs and I can do it with three,” he said after receiving the winner’s medal.

“I am not leaving Inter, I am leaving Italian football. This group of players has given me great satisfaction and I will always have Inter inside of me. I am grateful to Serie A because I have grown as a coach since I have been here. The important thing is that Inter still have their president and great players like Zanetti and Milito.”

With two sumptuous goals on the biggest stage of European football, Diego Milito showed why Mourinho always believed that the Argentine was the special one. The striker had only played for the unglamorous clubs like Genoa and Real Zaragoza in Italy and Spain. Despite his prolific scoring record, top clubs never wanted to sign him. And it wasn’t until Mourinho showed faith in the most under-rated striker of the decade that Milito finally got the chance to play Champions League football.

On Saturday night, Milito was imperious. His goals earlier had given Inter the Serie A and Coppa Italia titles and his delightful one-twoes with the Dutch maestro Wesley Sneijder tormented the Germans all night in Madrid. Their clever play reflected Jose Mourinho’s style of football, which is to hurt the enemy on the break.

rituraj@khaleejtimes.com



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