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Very Special Indeed

Article Published: Saturday 22 May 2010

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Two years ago Roberto Mancini was fired as coach of Inter Milan and replaced by Jose Mourinho, who was given a clear mandate: turn this team into Champions League winners.

On Saturday, Mourinho delivered as Inter beat Bayern Munich 2-0 to add the European title to their Serie A and domestic cup triumphs allowing himn to become just the third coach to win the continental crown with two different teams.

In his first season at Inter, Mourinho achieved the absolute minimum, retaining the Serie A crown, while he was excused their inability to pass the Champions League second round.

It was his first crack at it with Inter and they drew the reigning champions Manchester United out of the hat.

This season their second round draw was no easier but Inter's hierarchy would have been less forgiving had Mourinho failed.

Inter ousted Chelsea, beating them home and away, and then went on to eliminate the holders Barcelona in the semi-finals.

Their success this season has vindicated the decision to fire Mancini who had won two Italian Cups and three titles but who had failed to take Inter beyond the Champions League quarter-finals.

In Mourinho, Inter were hiring a proven winner, a coach who had already enjoyed success in two countries before arriving in Italy.

With Porto, in just two full seasons, he won the Champions League, UEFA Cup, two Portuguese titles and the Portuguese Cup.

In three full seasons with Chelsea he won the Premier League twice, the FA Cup and the League Cup twice while guiding the Londoners to the Champions League semi-finals on two occasions.

But Mourinho's story in Italy has not just been about on-field success, in fact it has been an at times hugely trying experience for the self-styled 'Special One'.

In his two years Mourinho has picked up numerous touchline bans and fines whilst he has had regular fallouts with rival coaches and presidents and has struggled to control and get the best out of errant young striker Mario Balotelli.

He has had a fractious relationship with the press and despite his success is probably the most criticised coach in Italy.

At times he has seemed to revel in the regular controversies but at others he has seemed exasperated, not least from his suspensions.

Mourinho is a journalist's dream who is never short of a controversial quote, a habit that saw him eventually loved by the press in England but has seen him offend the media in Italy.

He even received one fine this season for manhandling and insulting a Corriere dello Sport journalist who had strayed uninvited into a restricted team area.

But the ban that most bemused Mourinho lasted three games and was for making a handcuffs gesture to cameras during a match against Sampdoria.

Following that he decided to boycott Italian news conferences, claiming he could not afford the bans and fines he received every time he did anything.

He has also made no secret of his dislike for life and football in Italy and has refused to commit his future to Inter publically while regularly highlighting what he misses about English football.

And then there is Real Madrid sniffing around and the press in Spain are convinced he will be heading there next season.

It has all led to the palpable feeling that Saturday's Champions League victory could well be a glorious swansong in Italy for Mourinho.

And one thing is for sure, when he's gone, he will be sorely missed.

 
 
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