Jose Mourinho showed the embarrassment of riches he has had to choose from during a career managing Porto, Chelsea, Inter, Real Madrid, Manchester United, Tottenham and Roma when he was asked to pick his all-time best XI of players he has coached by Marca.
Mourinho opted for a diamond formation consisting of: Petr Cech; Javier Zanetti, John Terry, Ricardo Carvalho, William Gallas; Claude Makelele, Frank Lampard, Mesut Ozil, Eden Hazard; Didier Drogba and Cristiano Ronaldo.
We’ve taken a look at the best players not to make the cut and come up with an alternative XI, arranged in a 4-3-3 formation.
GK: David de Gea
Iker Casillas seems the obvious choice as this team’s No.1, but given how much the former Real Madrid captain clashed with Mourinho, were going to rule him out.
Julio Cesar is a strong contender from Inter, but we’re going to opt for De Gea, who was arguably Manchester United’s only world-class player during Mourinho’s spell at Old Trafford.
David de Gea’s record 14 saves against Arsenal equalling the record for most stops in a Premier League match in 2017!
Single-Handedly kept us in the game in a 3-1 Win 🧤
— United Zone (@ManUnitedZone_) March 21, 2020
Right-back was a fairly unglamorous position for Mourinho during his first spell at Chelsea, with the likes of Paulo Ferreira and Juliano Belletti filling the role.
Alvaro Arbeloa? Nah. Branislav Ivanovic? Can feel unlucky not to be in here.
But we have to go for Maicon. Mainly for the fact that Mourinho moved training on Mondays to the afternoon as the Brazilian was often still drunk in the mornings, according to former Inter midfielder Ianis Zicu.
CB: Sergio Ramos
Another player who publicly fell out with Mourinho at Real Madrid, Ramos is just too good to leave out.
The ultimate shithouse in terms of walking the walk as well as talking the talk?
Mourinho telling Alonso and Ramos to get red cards intentionally so as to miss the next match 😂😂 pic.twitter.com/xO3Gws8zKZ
— pedi wa viatu (@MomanyiCedrick) October 7, 2021
CB: Raphael Varane
The genuinely quite intimidating Lucio can count himself unlucky here, and we did consider pairing up Ramos with a kindred spirit in the shithouse stakes Pepe, but then we remembered Mourinho’s own words at Real Madrid.
“Pepe has a problem. And his name is Raphael Varane.”
William Gallas was a surprise choice in Mourinho’s favourite XI, but Ashley Cole himself has admitted he “didn’t play as well as I could” during Mourinho’s first spell at Chelsea and was phased out for Cesar Azpilicueta the second time around.
Serial trophy winner Maxwell was an option from Inter, but Marcelo edges his way ahead of his compatriot into the XI, as he so often did for Brazil.
DM: Xabi Alonso
One of the few players to play for both Mourinho and Pep Guardiola, there was no way we were ever going to leave Alonso out.
CM: Wesley Sneijder
He gets in for that Treble season at Inter alone. No arguments.
The wily Estaban Cambiasso and Thiago Motta were options from Inter, but we’ve instead opted for the cunning of Deco to complete a very aesthetically-pleasing midfield three.
RW: Arjen Robben
Persistent injury issues meant Robben didn’t show his best for Chelsea under Mourinho, but there were still enough signs the winger was going to turn into something special.
Robben on one flank and Damien Duff on the other made Mourinho’s first Chelsea team one of his most exciting.
ST: Zlatan Ibrahimovic
“He formed an attachment to me even before we met,” Ibrahimovic wrote in I Am Zlatan. “He would become a guy I was basically willing to die for.
“I felt increasingly that this guy gives everything for the team, so I want to give everything for him. It was a quality he had. People were willing to kill for him.
“No matter how happy I was going to Barca, it was sad to leave Mourinho. That guy is special.”
🇮🇹 Ibrahimovic at Inter:
🏆🏆🏆 Serie A
🏆🏆 Supercoppa Italiana pic.twitter.com/H0UegDmz2W
— GOAL (@goal) October 3, 2019
LW: Samuel Eto’o
“Eto’o played left winger for Mourinho. When the next manager [Rafael Benitez] came along and asked of Eto’o to play left winger, he replied, ‘No, I only do that for Mourinho,'” Wesley Sneijder told Voetbal International in 2018.
Let’s just not mention that spell at Chelsea when Mourinho suggested the forward was older than he let on.
Notable players to miss out: Iker Casillas, Thibaut Courtois, Julio Cesar, Lucio, Pepe, Ashley Cole, Maxwell, Esteban Cambiasso, Sami Khedira, Thiago Motta, Michael Essien, Angel Di Maria, Son Heung-min, Karim Benzema, Harry Kane, Gonzalo Higuain, Diego Milito.