He is not the best loved public figure in Portugal. His perceived arrogance (some would say clever manipulation of minds) does not always sit well. And the generally utilitarian nature of his teams is maybe not for the purist. But as football tactics guru Luís Freitas Lobo wrote in A Bola this week: “In 20 or 30 years, we’ll all remember Barcelona 2010 (like we remember Ajax from the 1970s), but no one is going to remember how Inter 2010 played. On the other hand, we’re all going to remember their coach.”
Not necessarily the best loved in Portugal, then, but certainly one of the most admired. An online poll run by A Bola showed 96 per cent of readers happy that Mourinho had won the award – surprising, perhaps, given the paper’s Benfica slant and Mourinho’s history with their arch-enemies FC Porto, notwithstanding his promising but ultimately ill-fated two-and-a-half-month spell at Benfica in late 2000.
Mourinho’s award is not going to drag this small country out of its current perilous economic situation. But for a moment this week, "Portuguese" was synonymous with "quality", and the hairs will have stood up on the back of millions of Portuguese necks as Mourinho the polyglot, no doubt pressured behind the scenes by FIFA to use English or Italian or Spanish (bow your head in shame, Luís Figo), collected his award with: “Peço desculpa por falar em português, mas sou um orgulhoso português” (I apologise for speaking in Portuguese, but I’m proud to be Portuguese). Phil Town