Mourinho enjoyed the best years of his career at Stamford Bridge...

Jose Mourinho names the best XI of players he’s worked with – featuring EIGHT Chelsea stars…

Jose Mourinho has made a career out of being a serial winner and earned a split reputation among fans and players, but what about his opinion on the players he’s coached?

While it’s never been conventionally beautiful, Mourinho’s style of play has always championed hard work and sacrifice in the pursuit of winning.

You either give your all for the Special One, or you don’t bother turning up in the first place. It’s a lot easier than it sounds and has broken plenty of footballers over the years.

Having managed around the world and been in charge of some of the game’s greatest players, hearing all about his preferred players when he spoke to AS in March was fascinating to say the least.

The publication tasked Mourinho with putting together an XI of his favourite players he’s worked with – let’s take a look at who made the cut.

GK: Petr Cech

Not much surprise here, Cech was a key cog in the machine as Mourinho’s Chelsea won back-to-back Premier League titles in his first stint with the club, dislodging Carlo Cudicini as first choice immediately upon arrival and helping the Blues to an outrageous defensive record.

He kept 24 clean sheets in his first season at the club and had set a then-Premier League record by March 2005 after going 1,025 minutes without conceding a goal. It continued into his second campaign, with Chelsea conceding just 22 goals in the 2005-06 season.

Following Cech’s retirement in 2019, Mourinho said he was ‘honoured’ to have been the man to give him his start in the Premier League with Chelsea.

Chelsea's Petr Cech celebrates after their game against Liverpool.

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RB: Javier Zanetti

“You would have jumped into a fire for Mourinho. With him in charge we were not afraid of anyone,” is what Zanetti told Italian magazine Sport Week in 2020, which perfectly summarises what it takes to play under the Special One.

Zanetti was a cornerstone in his near-perfect Inter side who were imperious as they won a continental treble in 2010. Initially a defender, the Argentine began showcasing his versatility in the mid-to-late 2000s and was deployed in midfield by Mourinho at times to combat injuries.

Truthfully, he’d play anywhere for the boss and – despite his advancing age – he’d play brilliantly. Fittingly, they won the Champions League in 2010 on Zanetti’s 700th appearance for the club. Goliath.

CB: John Terry

Again no surprise considering how defensively brilliant his first Chelsea sides were, a young John Terry under Mourinho quickly blossomed into one of – if not the best – central defenders in the world in the mid-2000s.

Together, the pair won three Premier Leagues and an FA Cup across two spells at Chelsea and they’ve made no secrets about how much they mean to one another over the years.

Mourinho sent Terry a personal video message after he was inducted into the Premier League Hall of Fame, which reduced the veteran defender to tears.

We’re praying that the pair reunite on the touchline as manager and coach someday.

CB: Ricardo Carvalho

You can’t have Terry without Carvalho. Under Mourinho, this pairing shook the Premier League to its core and gave strikers and fans alike sleepless nights galore with their clinics at the back.

One of only four players to play under Mourinho at three separate clubs throughout his career, Carvalho was a firm favourite of his fellow countrymen and led the back line for him at Porto, Chelsea and Real Madrid, winning trophies at all three clubs. Not a bad CV, that.

LB: Ashley Cole

Yet another Chelsea alumni, Cole was tempted to Chelsea from Arsenal in somewhat controversial circumstances in the summer of 2006, but never looked back after joining the dark side and linking up with Mourinho.

He joined at an unfortunate time with Mourinho’s Chelsea already having won back-to-back titles and failing to reclaim it for a third time in 2006-07.

But the defender would eventually win a league and cup double at the club in 2009-10 under Ancelotti and his time under Mourinho was without a doubt crucial to his development as a player.

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CM: Claude Makelele

The fact we still refer to a specific position/set of instructions at the base of midfield as the ‘Makelele role’ tells you all you need to know about exactly how vital the French midfielder was to Mourinho’s Chelsea.

Makelele signed for Chelsea a season before Mourinho’s arrival, but blossomed under the Portuguese manager in 2004-05.

His defensive nouse and reading of the game allowed other players to let their attacking attributes flourish more freely, which Mourinho was exceptionally grateful for.

CM: Frank Lampard

All feels very Chelsea this, doesn’t it? We can’t really blame Mourinho, though, considering just how influential his time in charge of the club was, especially the first time round.

While Makelele did the work from deep, Lampard roamed forward with the ball and operated as Mourinho’s all-action, goal-getting midfield lynchpin.

Back in 2016, Mourinho claimed that Lampard was ‘the best player in the Premier League for one decade’ which is a rather lofty compliment, while Lampard has never been shy to praise his former manager and how he gave them a winning edge.

CM: Mesut Ozil

A break from the Chelsea overload and a glorious one, Ozil played for Mourinho at Real Madrid and while it doesn’t sound like a pairing that should work in your head, the German playmaker was unstoppable when under the tutelage of the Special One.

Perhaps one of the most free-flowing and entertaining teams of modern times – no, really – Mourinho’s Real were an attacking goliath and Ozil was key to that with his unrelenting creativity and ability to consistently feed the forwards around him.

During his three years in Madrid, he finished with the most assists in La Liga every time, his final season of which saw him rack up an astounding 29 in all competitions.

Reports at the time suggested it ended sourly due to a falling out between the pair, but Mourinho picking Ozil in an all-time favourite XI says it all.

RW: Eden Hazard

The crown jewel of his second stint at Chelsea, Hazard was Mourinho’s attacking luxury and it was special watching him blossom under the Portuguese coach.

He put in many stellar individual performances in 2013-14 as Mourinho returned to the club and completely wowed his new manager, who declared him the best young footballer in the world at the beginning of 2014.

Hazard would win the PFA Young Player of the Year award at the end of the season and lift the Premier League a season later, before going on to win the club’s Player of the Year award back-to-back.

His form unravelled alongside Mourinho’s third-season decline, which is perhaps fitting of how well the pair complimented each other. What a time to be alive. Jose Mourinho Quiz 30 Questions Special One Man Utd Chelsea Real Madrid Inter Career Trophies

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ST: Didier Drogba

Come on, who else?

“When I took him to Chelsea, I remember clearly (Roman) Abramovich was asking me, ‘Who? Who do you want as a striker?’

“With all the big names in Europe at that time, I said Drogba. ‘Who is he? Where’s he playing?’ [I said] ‘Mr Abramovich—pay. Pay, and don’t speak.'”

One of the best duos in the history of football? We think so. Will never be repeated.

LW: Cristiano Ronaldo

While Ozil was supplying, Ronaldo was scoring – like it was going out of fashion.

In 168 appearances under Mourinho, Ronaldo bagged 164 goals and assisted a further 49, operating on a level that was simply superhuman and creating a rivalry with Lionel Messi that will never be forgotten.

The pair weren’t without their clashes – reports while they were both at Real suggested a new fallout every other week – but that was to be expected between two strong personalities with an addiction to winning.

Would either of them change anything? Probably not.