Football: Mourinho to be new coach of Singapore? Special One has his own quips

It was all smiles and handshakes yesterday as Martin Tan (extreme right), principal of Northlight School, ushered Jose Mourinho around, to the delight of students and staff.
It was all smiles and handshakes yesterday as Martin Tan (extreme right), principal of Northlight School, ushered Jose Mourinho around, to the delight of students and staff.ST PHOTOS: DESMOND WEE
Northlight School pupil Mohammed Zahid, 15, displaying the football that was signed for him by Jose Mourinho. The teenager, who follows Chelsea, has vowed not to play with the ball in order to preserve the autograph.
Northlight School pupil Mohammed Zahid, 15, displaying the football that was signed for him by Jose Mourinho. The teenager, who follows Chelsea, has vowed not to play with the ball in order to preserve the autograph.

Former Chelsea manager jokes about the endless links to jobs since he left the Blues

He has been the subject of intense speculation ever since he was sacked by Chelsea in December, but Jose Mourinho remains tight-lipped about which side he will be managing next.

The Portuguese, who is hotly tipped to take over Louis van Gaal's post at Manchester United, coolly brushed aside talk of his next port of call, even managing to joke about the subject, during a surprise appearance at Northlight School yesterday.

"I read so many different things, one day says yes, another day says no, one other day says I go to China, another day I go to Italy," he said.

"I go to Milan and people say I'm going back to Inter (Milan). Now I'm here, probably you are saying that I go to the Singapore national team."

Being one of only five managers to have won in four different European leagues, it is no wonder that the 53-year-old's services are still highly sought after, despite his ignominious exit in his second spell with Chelsea.

Jose Mourinho on...

GREATEST FOOTBALL DISAPPOINTMENT

Champions League is a big thing in Europe. I was lucky to be in the finals, but I also lost in the semi-finals on penalties. I lost at Chelsea-Liverpool on penalties, I lost at Real Madrid-Bayern Munich on penalties too. When you lose the semi-finals on penalties, you get the feeling that you did everything right, and you are not lucky. I have these moments, but I cannot complain, because when you win twice, you have to accept that it's part of (the game) to lose two semi-finals.

DESIRED SIGNING AT NEXT CLUB

First of all I need a club. I travel, I went to Germany, I went to Italy, I will go to Spain, I watch matches in England, there are so many players. First of all I need to have my future decided, to know where I go.

BEING A SUCCESSFUL MANAGER

You need to win matches. You need to win titles. You have to reinvent yourself, you have to (confront) question marks every day, and that's what I'm still doing.

THE BEST PLAYER HE HAS MANAGED

It is very unfair for me to say that. Many times people asked me to do my best team with all the players I have, and I think it's very unfair. Who was my best player, it's so hard and so difficult to say, and I coached some of the best players in the world. I had incredible players. At Chelsea, in my first period I had Frank Lampard, probably the best player in the Premier League for one decade. I went to Inter (Milan), I had (Zlatan) Ibrahimovic, I got (Javier) Zanetti. I go to Madrid, I had (Cristiano) Ronaldo. I come back to Chelsea, I find other top players. I have so many, they gave me so much that it's not fair to say this is the one. It's impossible to win so many things without the players, so I respect all of them.

THE TEAM HE ENJOYED BEATING MOST

It's always important to have rivals. At Chelsea the first time, it was a period when Arsenal was a big rival, and Manchester United of course. Then I go to Milan, there are big derbies, so Inter v Milan, Inter v Juventus, all these (are) so big rivalries. I go to Madrid, of course Barcelona was a rival. I come back to Chelsea now, it was not about Man United and Arsenal, Manchester City was coming very strong in the last few years.

For now, however, Mourinho has time to attend to his private commercial matters.

Together with Singapore billionaire and Valencia club owner Peter Lim, as well as football agent Jorge Mendes, he visited Northlight School to speak to about 100 students on the invitation of the Singapore Olympic Foundation, which Lim sponsors.

This is his second time in the Republic. During his last visit, in 2012, he handed out Singapore Olympic Foundation-Peter Lim Scholarships to national athletes.

While media reports in Italy stated that he will become Man United's next manager, Mourinho insists that nothing is "concrete" about reports linking him with Old Trafford.

He said: "It's a million-dollar question that nobody knows (the answer to). I'm not worried about it. I'm relaxed, wait and (I'll wait and) see what happens.

"Every day new reports are coming but the reality is that I have no job, and in this moment I am happy not to have a job. I miss football, yes, and if I have to return tomorrow, I will return tomorrow.

"But I always feel that it's better to wait, not to rush... starting the next season with a new club and project is probably the best thing for me."

Mourinho revealed that he is enjoying the time spent with his family and friends, and travelling around the world.

And it was evident yesterday as he was his usual charismatic self during the school visit, answering questions from students and staff regarding his time with the reigning English Premier League champions.

He said cheekily: "I'm still the English champion, and I have no job. So it's quite a funny career.

"This is football, that's why for me Chelsea is over, it's finished. And I look forward to the future with more enthusiasm, and not the past."

Mourinho talked about his favourite players, the biggest disappointments in his career, and also the teams he most enjoyed beating, to the amusement of the audience.

The "Special One" is the third major football personality to visit the school, after Portuguese players Luis Nani of Manchester United and Real Madrid's Pepe in 2011 and 2012 respectively.

On his motivation for travelling to the city-state, he said: "When there is some charity involved, especially kids with special needs, when I can, I do it.

"When I'm working, I have to do it just locally, and now I'm having the chance to do it in a different perspective.

"They have the chance to speak with me a little bit, to ask a few questions, I think it's always a positive feeling for them."

For Chelsea fan Mohammed Zahid, seeing his team's former manager made him "happy and excited". The 15-year-old Northlight student, who is a member of the school's football team, was the only one fortunate enough to get Mourinho's signature on his football.

"I'm going to keep it, and I'm not going to play with it," he said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 25, 2016, with the headline 'Jose Mourinho on... MOURINHO TO BE NEW COACH OF SINGAPORE?'. Print Edition | Subscribe