Jose Mourinho took the reins at Porto in 2002 after the club had gone three seasons without winning the league title, and duly delivered a trio of trophies in his first season, including the UEFA Cup.
The following season they claimed the Primeira Liga title again – but went one better in Europe by winning the Champions League, beating Monaco 3-0 in the Gelsenkirchen final.
Deco scored Porto’s second goal of the night and, like Mourinho, it was to prove his final act with the club. Speaking in the new FourFourTwo Films production, How to win the Champions League by the men who have done it, Deco – who won the competition again in 2006 with Barcelona – says Mourinho was a genuine game-changer.
“He arrived in 2002, a long time ago, and the football changed... it evolved,” recalls the ex-Portugal star. “But back then, Mourinho was quite ahead of the other managers. He brought a mentality to the Portuguese players that didn’t exist, which was believing that they could win important things.
“And on top of that, his training sessions, the vision he had, the game analysis and the opponent analysis. So yes, it was very good to have Mourinho in the beginning of his career – he had so much to teach, and we also learned a lot.
“It was a phase in which he could help every player, value everyone and, consequently, he valued himself too.”
You can watch the film at the bottom of this story
Deco and Mourinho’s paths did not cross again despite both later joining Chelsea – the former moved to Stamford Bridge as Luiz Felipe Scolari’s first signing as Blues boss in summer 2008, and left for Fluminense two years later under Carlo Ancelotti’s tenure.
But the now 39-year-old says he is still in sporadic contact with his old manager, and claims Mourinho was very good to him on a personal level during times of difficulty.
“The relationship with me was always very good, we are still friends nowadays,” Deco told FFT. “We don’t speak a lot in truth, but that’s because I never liked talking – I only did when it was necessary!
“He understood that, but he was able to motivate and could understand the problems I had. Many times I was going through some complicated phases – I had a divorce, I was far away from my children… and many times he came to me and asked if four days was enough for me to return to Brazil.
“He knew that it was something important for me in that moment. So he knew how to work not only with match aspects but also the psychological aspects. That was what made him – and still does – a successful manager.”
It’s every player’s dream to win the biggest prize in European club football, but only a select few get to lift Ol’ Big Ears aloft. Why? And, most importantly, how did they do it? FFT has quizzed the likes of Lionel Messi, Javier Zanetti and Xabi Alonso to explain the blueprint for success. Watch it below
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