It’s easy to forget just how fascinating Jose Mourinho was when he first arrived in England 13 years ago.
The Portuguese coach, now 55-years-old and the manager of Manchester United, often cuts a disgruntled and moody figure.
But back in 2004, when he became Chelsea boss for the first time, nobody could get enough of him.
Mourinho began his Chelsea reign by declaring himself ‘the special one’ – and that was just the start of three successful years at Stamford Bridge.
He won the Premier League title in back-to-back seasons and also lead Chelsea to FA Cup and League Cup glory in his first stint.
Mourinho helped Chelsea break Manchester United and Arsenal’s dominance in the top flight and achieved the success that Roman Abramovich craved after buying the club in 2003.
And his players loved him. Frank Lampard and John Terry both consider him to be the best manager they have played for.
So his departure from the club in 2007 was always going to draw an emotional reaction from the players.
Mourinho’s relationship with Abramovich was fractured and he left the club in September 2007.
Steve Sidwell, who signed for Chelsea that summer, has revealed the reaction inside the dressing room when Mourinho informed the players of his departure.
“Jose came down to the dressing room to say his goodbyes and gave a speech about how proud he was and the relationships he built with the players,” Sidwell said on talkSPORT.
“I looked around that dressing room and there were tears coming from the players’ eyes.
“I’m talking Didier Drogba, John Terry, Frank Lampard, you name it. There was not a dry eye in that room.”
Watch Sidwell tell the full story.
Sidwell’s story says it all.
Mourinho had built such a connection with his players that they simply couldn’t accept his exit.
It’s hard to imagine Man United players reacting the same way if Mourinho left Old Trafford right now.