Beckham salutes 'special' manager Mourinho

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As Real Madrid thrashed Athletic Bilbao 3-0 at San Mames in May, to clinch their first Liga crown since 2008, Jose Mourinho celebrated his finest achievement yet.

Seven title successes in the past 10 years, taking in triumphs in four different countries, the Portuguese tactician has cemented his place as one of the most decorated coaches in the history of the game.

Having conquered England, Italy, and now Spain, Mourinho must be considered as one of the greatest managers of all time. From leading Porto to a miraculous treble in 2004, to helping Chelsea win their first English title in almost 50 years, the 'Special One' has reached great heights, unrivalled in the modern game.

Now, football's most famous player, David Beckham has paid special tribute to Mourinho, as his MLS side LA Galaxy prepare to take on Madrid in a pre-season friendly in southern California on Thursday.

Speaking after the final training session ahead of tonight's clash against the Spanish giants, the former England captain described the buzz around the squad, particularly the younger players, who are excited by the opportunity to test themselves against world class opposition.

"Yes it's always a game that the young players look forward to, because they come up against some of the best players and one of the best managers in football," he explained. "The experience of playing in these games is exceptional for the kids."

Moving on to Mourinho, Beckham added: "I've spoken about my admiration for Jose. I think he's an exceptional manager, and an amazing human being as well.

"What he does for teams, and what he does for players as individuals, he's very special. There's not many managers that can do that. He was one of the first people to call me after I ruptured my Achilles, and he's always kept in touch with me."

The 49-year-old is one of just a few bosses to have claimed titles in four countries, the only one to have clinched championships in the three most prestigious leagues, and one of just three managers to have won Champions League crowns at two different clubs. Mourinho undoubtedly has a winning formula, but should he really be regarded as one of the world's greatest?

If achieving sustained success, rebuilding numerous title-winning teams at one club, in the same manner Sir Alex Ferguson has at Manchester United is the mark of a complete coach, Mourinho is clearly not it. He has yet to build a dynasty at any of his former abodes, and given his short-term strategy for success, is never likely to do so.

Detractors will also argue that whilst his system brings undeniable results, pretty play is not conducive to his regimented tactics, so far removed are his teams' style, from the possession play and perfect passing pioneered by Spanish rivals Barcelona.

His Madrid team may yet prove to be an exception to the rule, after hitting well over 100 goals in La Liga last season, but even that came largely via a counter-attacking philosophy, exaggerated by the solo exploits of Mourinho's Portuguese compatriot, and FIFA Ballon d'Or nominee Cristiano Ronaldo.

"Cristiano's place [on the Ballon d'Or shortlist] speaks for itself," Beckham said. "I was watching him throughout the Euros and the first two games, people were on his back. it just made me smile, because players like that love proving people wrong. He had a great tournament.

"[Lionel] Messi and Cristiano are two players that hardly any other player can get near, in terms of their standard at the moment."

Clearly, Ronaldo is relishing his role at the Santiago Bernabeu under the tutelage of Mourinho, whose ability to get the very best out of the world's leading stars continues to shine through. That faculty alone is reason enough to consider him one of football's finest managers, even before considering the 19 trophies - six at Porto, six at Chelsea, five at Inter Milan, and two at Madrid - he has amassed over the past decade.

His first season in Spain yielded a Copa del Rey, but the campaign ultimately ended disappointingly as Real missed out on La Liga by four points to Pep Guardiola's Barca. That anticlimax acted as an incentive to come back even stronger, and in 2011-12 Mourinho finally ousted the team described by many as the greatest ever club side, to secure Madrid's 32nd title.

Now, the only missing piece of the Madrid jigsaw is the much coveted Champions League crown, as the capital club look to land an unprecedented 10th European Cup. After claiming the trophy with Inter in 2010, Mourinho revealed his motivation for winning UEFA's premier club competition with three different clubs, in three different countries. Along with a defence of the domestic title, that will be his next target.

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