‘We did nothing that Jose told us to do,’ former FC Porto player reveals the moment that changed Mourinho’s career was not planned by the coach
Jose Mourinho’s rise from being a promising young coach to ‘The Special One’, started on the night when his FC Porto side knocked out heavyweights Manchester United from the 2004 UEFA Champions League. Mourinho had already guided the Portuguese club to UEFA Cup glory the previous season, but beating the big boys in Europe’s elite tournament is what brought him in the limelight. He would go on to win the tournament that season with Porto.
The round of 16 tie against Manchester United was a tough one and no one gave Mourinho’s side a chance. But they won 2-1 at home, courtesy a brace from Benni McCarthy, and came to Old Trafford with the single point agenda of not letting the Red Devils score.
But that changed quickly as Paul Scholes scored for Manchester United just after the half-hour mark. United were ahead on the away goal rule and Porto desperately needed to score to get ahead on aggregate. The goal finally came in the 90th minute and the image of Mourinho celebrating on the sidelines and Sir Alex Ferguson’s sombre face is still fresh in the memory of football fans.
The scorer of that goal was mid-fielder Costinha who has now revealed that the goal came completely against the plans of what Mourinho had asked the team to do.
“I remember that in the moment we did nothing that Jose told us to do,” Costinha told football website goal.com. “Nothing we did was a Mourinho plan!
“The coach can prepare you perfectly for games but there are moments when players change things by themselves – and in a good way.
“In that particular moment, we didn’t do what Mourinho wanted. We did it differently. But the ball went into the net. Howard had dropped it and John O’Shea was caught ball-watching and didn’t react quickly.
“I did, though, and when I scored, I just saw the image of my supporters. I forgot everything in that moment and just went over to celebrate with them. What a feeling!” the mid-fielder added.
He further went on to praise Mourinho for instilling a lot of confidence in his players.
“He said; ‘Costa, look at the draw: Manchester United. The first game is at home and the second away.
“’You are suspended for the first game but we will beat them by a goal and then, you will be there in the second game when they will press us.
“’Long balls, duels and you will put them out of the competition.’ He then stood up and left.
“What else can I tell you about Mourinho? He was right: that’s exactly what happened.
“He always gave us the right input at the right time. He managed our mentality perfectly. He always kept us focused.
“Even when I was talking to an Italian club at the time, he called me in the hotel afterwards and he said; ‘Costa, stay with us, we are going to win the league and the Champions League. Then, you can go to England or Italy.’
“He always talked to you like that. And you believed him and it made you more confident. So, we went into matches with more belief than we would have normally had,” Costinha was quoted as saying.