Jose Mourinho Looks Ahead to “Special” Reunion

Jose Mourinho Looks Ahead to “Special” Reunion
20100817 - LIEGE, BELGIUM: Real Madrid's head coach Jose Mourinho and Xabier Alonso pictured during a friendly soccer match between Standard and Real Madrid, at the Maurice Dufrasne Stadium in Liege, Tuesday 17 August 2010. BELGA PHOTO MICHEL KRAKOWSKI - VIRGINIE LEFOUR

Jose Mourinho is gearing up for yet another European semi-final tonight as his Roma side takes on Bayer Leverkusen for a place in the Europa League Final next month in Budapest. Roma overcame Feyenoord in the previous round while their German opponents defeated this year’s surprise package, Union Saint-Gilloise.

While the tie is big enough in its own right, there is an interesting subplot revolving around two managers. Mourinho is set to go head-to-head with one of his former players, Xabi Alonso, who is in his first season as the manager of Leverkusen.

The fact that Mourinho, who is being tipped with a move to PSG this summer, is coming up against Alonso isn’t going to be a surprise to the Portuguese coach. Back in 2019, when Alonso was starting his coaching career with Real Sociedad’s B team, Mourinho predicted big things for his former midfielder. He said:

“With Xabi Alonso, you always saw there was a manager there. Similarly to me, his father was a player. He grew up with a father who was a player then a manager, and then he became a player, of course much better than I was.

His knowledge of the game was very high. And then he played in Spain, England, and Germany. And he was coached by Guardiola at Bayern, by myself in Real Madrid, by Ancelotti in Real Madrid, and by Benitez in Liverpool. So if you put all that together then I would say that Xabi has the conditions to be a very good coach.”

A prediction that has come true

There are countless examples of statements made by Mourinho that have turned out to be correct years down the line and his comments about Alonso certainly fit into that category. The Spaniard is excelling in Germany and has his team in the hunt for a top-four finish domestically while they are just two good results away from a first European final in more than 20 years.

Speaking ahead of the first leg, Mourinho spoke about how much he was looking forward to seeing his former player. The 60-year-old said:

“I haven’t seen him for a long time. We’ve always had a fantastic rapport, more than between a coach and a player.”

Mourinho became head coach of Real Madrid just a year after Alonso joined the Spanish giants from Liverpool. The pair worked together in the Spanish capital for three years and managed to stop Barcelona’s dominance in 2012 when they won La Liga.

They also won the Copa del Rey in 2011 and the Spanish Super Cup in 2012 before Mourinho returned to Chelsea in the summer of 2013.

A “special” moment

The praise and love between the pair is clearly reciprocal with Alonso taking the time in his press conference to speak about how much admiration he has for his former boss. The former Liverpool midfielder said:

“Of course, it’s special for me to play against him. I had a great time with him and I learned a lot from him. Mourinho knows how to inspire a team and he was always a leader.

I’m looking forward to seeing him, but when the game starts I will be completely focused on the events on the pitch and I will dedicate all my energy exclusively to working with my team.”

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