HE WILL go down as one of the most charismatic, energetic and successful managers of a generation and one man who had full access to former Chelsea, Real Madrid and current Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho is Warwickshire journalist Robert Beasley.
Even those people without an interest in football or sport will have heard of the name Mourinho, who has been a regular face on the back pages of newspapers for over ten years.
As a former sports writer for the News of the World and The Sun, Beasley became close to Mourinho as a sports reporter at Stamford Bridge and the two struck up a special relationship, which enabled him to pen his first book ‘Jose Mourinho – Up Close and Personal’.
“Jose Mourinho is marmite character,” Beasley told the Observer. “Some people love him, some people hate him.”
From his fiery outbursts during press conferences to his ability to guide underdogs Porto to the Champions League title, Mourinho ensures he is the hot topic of discussion among football fans across the world, so how did Beasley strike up a good relationship with the Portuguese manager?
“Like in any walk of life you get drawn to people who have got the same sort of outlook and personality as you.
“The book is about the many different sides to Jose, not just the manager but the man.
“The whole point of me trying to do the book was because I was getting fed up people saying to me ‘oh that Jose, he’s an idiot’ – they see this guy on the TV and they think they know him. He’s far more than that.
“The book is many different layers, levels and faces of Jose Mourinho and that’s what I tried to do.
“If you’re writing a book that gives a revealing insight into Mourinho the manager and the man, you can’t leave the spikey bits out.
“If you’re going to be genuine, honest and proper appraisal of the bloke you’ve got to tell of his good bits and bad bits as well so it is balanced, it is true and it is a true reflection of the personality.”
Mourinho burst onto the scene after guiding Portuguese side Porto to the Champions League title back in 2004, but it was his first press conference as Chelsea manager that got the British public purring.
Beasley remembers: “I’m at that first press conference where Mourinho announces that he’s ‘the special one’ and I thought ‘my God this guy is amazing, he’s box office, he’s going to make headlines’.
“I thought ‘wow, he’s a bit of a character’ then next thing you know he’s winning the Champions League and he’s installed as manager of Chelsea.
“He talked the talk and he walked the walk with what he had achieved with Porto.
“I loved him because he had that bit of swagger about him and I made it my business that day to make an impact on him.
“The written press were waiting outside for our turn and it was raining. We finally get in and Jose is at the top table so I went up to the head of communications at Chelsea deliberately and said ‘this is a shambles, this is one of the best managers in the world and you’re hosting his press conference in this little room’ – I did this deliberate drama and I could see Jose looking and thinking ‘who’s this guy?’. It worked because we started a close relationship.
“His pre-match press conferences are contrived. He takes the pressure off his players and gets into other players’ heads and coaches too. If there’s anything controversial going on at the club he’ll make the press conference all about him.
“His press conferences were brilliant and Chelsea were winning. He’s got that spark about him that makes a bit volatile and hot tempered.”
The book covers the many sides to Mourinho, including his infamous spats with Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, the hugely controversial tapping up scandal involving Ashley Cole, which was broken by Beasley, and dealing with being a global superstar.
Asked what Beasley’s favourite chapter in the book is, he responded with a smile: “Jennifer Aniston.
“We’re in Beverley Hills Hotel and we’re all waiting in reception – players, coaches, kit men, physios and the media. There’s a bout 60 blokes making a lot of noise.
“This door then opens and it’s Jennifer Aniston and she’s looking stunningly gorgeous. You see her on TV but she’s even more beautiful in real life.
“The room freezes and we’re all standing there like zombies. Our mouths drop at this vision of beauty.
“Who’s the first to say anything? Jose shouts ‘blow me Brad Pitt, what an idiot. Jennifer Aniston one Angelina Jolie nil’. We all burst out laughing.
“He summed up what every single one of us was thinking. It’s one of my favourite chapters in the book because it shows that Jose has got a sense of humour. That was a brilliant experience.”
The relationship between Mourinho and Beasley continued to flourish following his more away from Chelsea as he went on to manager Inter Milan and Real Madrid before returning to England once again three years ago.
They were that close that Beasley revealed how he helped Mourinho almost land one of the biggest jobs in world football.
“I was sat in Steve McLaren’s final press conference as England manager and my phone went off, it was Jose. He text me saying ‘is the England job interested in Jose?’.
“I found Brian Barwick who was the chief executive of the FA at the time and I told him Jose was interested. I passed on his number and I told Jose they’d be in touch.
“A week had gone by and Jose got in touch saying there had been no contact from the FA.
“By luck Barwick and a few others from the FA were sat behind me on a plane journey, so I said ‘oi! It’s Jose on the phone, he says you haven’t been in touch yet!’
“They said they’d call him but I was thinking ‘come on, don’t mess about, something better might come along’.
“The talks eventually happened and I got a message from Jose saying he was going to take the job. I wrote the back page ‘Jose for England’ and thought I had a big scoop.
“The next day I got a call from Jose saying he’s got a big offer from a massive club and he’s changed his mind! I was the one who told the FA that night!”
In total there 47 chapters covering Mourinho’s first moments as Chelsea manager right the way through to finally being handed the reigns at Manchester United – a job he had always craved.
So how long does Beasley think he will remain at Old Trafford and what does the long term future hold for the self proclaimed ‘special one’?
“Jose had always wanted the Manchester United job,” Beasley added. “He thought he had it when he was at Real Madrid but the goalposts were moved dramatically.
“I knew he was really into that job. When he left Chelsea and Louis van Gaal was having his problems, I was thinking Jose will be working to making it happen.
“He’s always wanted to build a dynasty like Alex Ferguson. But he envied him having that stability and Arsene Wenger. He’d love to go 10-15 years and keep building team after team before ending his career by achieving something with Portugal.”
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