‘The Special One’ as he was once called is known to be one of the greatest coaches of our generation. In January 2002 when the Portuguese manager took over FC Porto, Porto was fifth on the league table. He guided the team to third place winning 11 games out of 15 games promising the Portuguese league title the following season. As the most surprising Champions League winner in recent history, Jose Mourinho and FC Porto have etched a place in European footballing history.

The aforementioned legendary coach has possessed confidence from an early age even though improbable odds were stacked against him. Jose Mourinho with little playing experience served under great footballing minds being the interpreter of Bobby Robson at Sporting, Porto, and Barcelona and was Louis Van Gaal’s assistant at Barcelona. Great things were expected from Moutinho when he took over at FC Porto because of these experiences. Combining the man-management ability of Bobby Robson, the meticulous approach to the game of Louis Van Gaal, and his invincible belief, the expectation was only right and he did not fail to deliver.

There were some doubts before the Porto appointment after his previous stint at SL Benfica and his image was affected slightly negatively. The conflict between politics at the club and his coaching philosophy put an end to this coaching stint. União de Leiria in 2001 provided an opportunity to Jose Mourinho and he led a team that lacked distinctive features third place in the top-flight and midway through the season, Porto came calling for his services. Delivering training sessions for Louis Van Gaal, Jose Mourinho’s advanced talent matched his hype and Porto demanded success and nothing else. FC Porto had not been successful in winning a domestic trophy in 3 years. With the worst team in two generations, FC Porto had a team who was in crisis and was not a team ready to achieve success in any way. The last European triumph was in 1987 as FC Porto beat Bayern and saw Robson lead them to eight league titles in the 90s. However, the Portuguese giants experienced a dormant period that created disruptions in the management. Jose Mourinho was employed to restore Porto to global recognition once again.

From the onset, he showed a cold-hearted and bold in his approach, and even with the underperforming team Porto had, he vowed to win the league title the next season. Mourinho desired hunger throughout his players looking for players with a mix of English passion and Portuguese flair. Nuno Valente and Paulo Ferreira were the cheap players found and thought to exhibit skill and character as the rebuild began.

Immediate reforms were made on the training field as every drill was measured to achieve a certain purpose. With the scientific approach, extreme efficiency was the aim as no energy or time was wasted and every session was extremely detailed. With one reform at a time, Portuguese football was seeing transformation under Mourinho even though there was slight disdain from management. Tactically, Mourinho deployed a hard and high press from his forwards. Derlei was brought in from Brazil and was the perfect player Mourinho had initiate this with his agility. The team pressured every opposition as the midfield compressed spaces behind with the defense to force turnovers and breaking to oppositions in lightning-quick fashion. Costinha was the destroyer from deep and the channel to their solidity linked the attack and defense and also the instigator from the front foot. Costinha had the expertise of Maniche and Deco and shifted the ball to these playmakers after every interception.

Jose Mourinho fulfilled his promise of winning the Portuguese league in 2003. His team achieved a record points tally and were 11 points clear of runners-up SL Benfica with 86 out of 102 points and was a Portuguese record. FC Porto won the Taca de Portugal and the UEFA Cup as well. Mourinho adopted the direct cut-and-thrust approach gaining the upper hand as they face every team and winning by any means-long ball, cross to a waiting striker, beautiful through ball, once the job is done. Porto possessed an underlying majesty even though the games were made up of total craziness and absolute chaos. FC Porto faced Celtic in the final beating them in typical entertaining fashion winning 3-2. It was 2-2 and deep into extra time when every viewer though he final will be decided by penalties. Porto always demanded more and Mourinho and his men seized the moment with 5 minutes remaining as Derlei pounced on a ball that caused panic in the Celtic box and made it 3-2. That night in Seville marked the beginning of greatness for the Portuguese mastermind.

The next season, Jose Mourinho was pragmatic in his approach in his quest to win the UEFA Champions League. “We can do some nice things,” he said. “But I don’t think we can win it. Only the sharks who can afford to spend 20, 30, or even 40 million euros on one player can do that.” Mourinho specialized in opposition analysis and was quick to make subtle adjustments to destroy the gameplan of his opposition. No one considered them to be Champions League favorites because the team had little experience and the financial disadvantage of the club was obvious. A team with brimming confidence as its manager, they emerged from a group with Real Madrid, Olympique Marseille, and Partizan Belgrade and the stalemate at Santiago Bernabeu to the Galacticos- Casillas, Raul, Luis Figo, Ronaldo Nazario, and Zinedine Zidane heightened their belief.

In the knockout round, they knocked out Manchester United in the most dramatic fashion. Porto headed into the tie as underdogs and Quinton Fortune handed the lead to the Red Devils. The inevitable started to show but Mourinho’s men dug deep as it became a habit and South African striker Benni McCarthy struck a memorable brace and handing Porto the advantage into the second leg. There were still doubters of Mourinho in that tie but he made it a point to offer them one of the most memorable tales. Paul Scholes put United ahead in the first half meaning United eliminates Porto by the away goal rule. Digging deep and showing character was a trait of FC Porto now and in the 91st minute of the game, Costinha crashed the ball into the net after Tim Howard parried a McCarthy freekick. The elimination of a European football giant was here as Mourinho said, “My team was out after 90 minutes, and in the quarter-finals after 91.” Mourinho knocked out Lyon comfortably and had to face Deportivo La Coruna in the semifinal. Beating Sir Alex Ferguson then was a great feat but there was more

His opponents had just knocked out defending champions AC Milan and that was a great feat. Jose Mourinho came up with a smash and grab moment that ensured the safe passage of at the Riazor where AC Milan fell. The defense held firm at the Estadio do Dragao securing and safe and remarkable passage into the final. AS Monaco, the opposition caused an upset knocking out Chelsea to play Porto in Germany was a final no one could predict. Mourinho was facing Didier Deschamps and his men in a final no one could predict. Monaco had Ludovic Guily, Fernando Morientes, and Patrice Evra. Mourinho was fortunate as Ludovic Guily got injured in the build-up to the finale and was forced off during the final after 22 minutes. The unfortunate injury restricted Monaco and reduced their threat turning out to be a blessing for Mourinho. Carlos Alberto scored six minutes before halftime, Deco scored in the 73rd minute after creating a 3-on-3 situation and Alenichev finished it off 4 minutes later. Porto had already won their 20th Portuguese league, finishing eight points ahead of Benfica and conceded 19 goals all season. Even though he lost to Benfica in the domestic cup final and AC Milan in the UEFA Super Cup, this managerial stint at Porto will never be forgotten. He showed at FC Porto that the sum of a whole squad is greater than its parts.

FC Porto provided the Moses basket to a visionary who executed his ideologies meticulously with sheer efficiency. The evolution of a footballing genius and nothing could obstruct the subsequent successes.