The manager has had a stellar career which has seen him plying his trade in Portugal, England, Italy and Spain.
You can say what you like about Jose Mourinho, regardless he will always be known as one of the greatest football managers of all time. “The Special One” has not only won league titles in Portugal, England, Italy and Spain, but he also has two Champions League wins to his name – one each with FC Porto and Inter Milan.
Although he started his managerial career in 1987, it was only in 2000 that he became the head coach for the first time, with Benfica handing him the opportunity to manage their first team. Since then, he has gone on to coach the likes of FC Porto, Chelsea (twice), Inter Milan, Real Madrid and -Manchester United – and right now, he is at Tottenham Hotspur.
Any footballer who has played under Jose Mourinho will tell you that is very hard to become his pet. Nevertheless, the 57-year-old did have quite many favourites and today, we take a look at the top ten most used players by him.
10. Xabi Alonso – 151 matches
Throughout his playing career, Xabi Alonso was regarded as one of the classiest midfielders ever and Mourinho was no stranger to that fact,
The 2010 FIFA World Cup winner made a total of 236 appearances at the Santiago Bernabeu, so now you know how valued he was by the Portuguese manager. In the 2010-11 and 2011-12 La Liga seasons, Mourinho handed the Spaniard 34 and 36 appearances respectively, which means he sat out only in a total of six matches across two seasons.
A little more than a year after Mourinho left Los Blancos, Alonso joined Bayern Munich, where he hung up his boots in 2017.
9. Mesut Ozil – 157 matches
The attacking midfield maestro was one of Los Blancos’ best players under Mourinho and that can be understood from the fact that he recorded 27 goals and 80 assists. In the 2010-11 and 2011-12 La Liga seasons, he played 36 and 35 matches respectively, sitting out for only five matches in total across both seasons.
In fact, it was Mourinho himself who signed Ozil for Real Madrid, who was a Werder Bremen player until the end of the 2009-10 season. The German’s stint at the Santiago Bernabeu also came to an end following Mourinho’s departure, as Arsenal signed him for €47m at the end of the 2012-13 season.
8. Nemanja Matic – 159 matches
Nemanja Matic is the only Manchester United player to make this list, but that is because he also played under Mourinho at Chelsea during his second tenure as their manager. Arguably all of Matic’s best Premier League performances have come when he was being managed by the Special One, who handed him a total of 159 chances to date.
The Serbian was actually a part of Chelsea’s 2009-10 league-winning side, but shortly afterwards, he left the club. When Mourinho returned to Stamford Bridge in 2014, he bought Matic back, who then went on to become the unsung hero for the Blues as they lifted the league title in 2014-15. Although Mourinho left the club midway through the next season, the 31-year-old continued to remain a mainstay at Chelsea and lifted another title in 2016-17.
Mourinho returned to the Premier League as Manchester United’s manager and in 2017-18, he signed Matic once again. Although United eventually fell short of Manchester City in the title race, the Serbian was one of the bright-sparks in midfield.
7. Cristiano Ronaldo – 164 matches
Mourinho is well known for his unorthodox ways, but even he clearly knew that when you have one of the greatest footballers ever on your books, you simply make use of him as much as you can.
Cristiano Ronaldo recorded a staggering total of 168 goals and 49 assists under his Portuguese compatriot – a goal involvement of 1.32 goals per game! He joined Real Madrid in 2009, but it was only after Mourinho’s arrival a year later that his career in Spain started taking off.
In the 2011-12 season, Mourinho made Ronaldo play all the 38 matches of their La Liga campaign! The partnership, however, came to an unfortunate ending in the next season as both of them fought each other publicly. Nevertheless, the five-time Ballon d’Or winner clearly enjoyed some of his best years under the 57-year-old.
6. Didier Drogba – 186 matches
Despite managing some of the greatest strikers of our time like Karim Benzema, Mourinho just kept coming back to enjoy more and more time with Didier Drogba, who was arguably his favourite forward. Overall, he fielded the Cote d’Ivoirian in a total of 186 matches and the pair happily won three Premier League crowns together.
Drogba scored 73 goals and provided 39 assists during his time at Chelsea under Mourinho. Although he left Stamford Bridge in 2012 at the end of an eight-year spell with the Blues, Mourinho brought him back once again in 2014, and he went on to win his fourth and final English league title in the following season.
5. Petr Cech – 195 matches
One of the best signings that Mourinho has ever made, Petr Cech still holds the record for the most clean-sheets (24) in a single Premier League season during the title-winning 2004-05 campaign.
Overall, he made a whopping 195 appearances under Jose Mourinho – and had it not been for Thibaut Courtois who usurped him, he may even have crossed the double-ton mark.
The Czech Republic international played at Chelsea for 11 years, after which he joined Arsenal. At the end of the 2018-19 season.
4. Paulo Ferreira – 211 matches
Paulo Ferreira immortalized himself at Chelsea’s right-back position, but he had already played under Jose Mourinho at Porto. In fact, it was Mourinho who transferred him to Chelsea following his appointment as their manager.
The Portugal international made 211 appearances under him across six seasons. It was under the 57-year-old that Ferreira played his best football, and with over 50 more appearances than his nearest rivals in Alvaro Arbeloa and Javier Zanetti, he was also his favourite right-back. He recorded only one goal and five assists in that time, however.
3. Frank Lampard – 215 matches
Frank Lampard is the most capped midfielder or striker from all of Mourinho’s clubs with 215 appearances, winning two Premier League titles and three domestic cups, scoring 70 goals and providing 61 assists under his management.
In the 2005-06 and 2006-07 Premier League seasons, Mourinho made Lampard play 35 and 37 matches respectively, meaning he sat out only in four matches across both seasons. By the time he returned to Stamford Bridge in 2013 for a second spell as their manager, the current Chelsea boss had run out of fuel and moved away the following summer.
2. John Terry – 266 matches
John Terry may only have played under Mourinho’s stewardship at a single club, albeit across two spells, but he’s officially the second most used player by him with a total of 266 appearances.
The English centre-back delivered next-level performances between 2004 and 2007, and was ever-present during their Premier League title win of 2014-15. In fact, he clocked 34+ appearances in four different league seasons under the Special One, and fell out of favour only at the very end of his tenure.
Despite being a defender, Terry also scored 26 goals and recorded 11 assists under Mourinho, who often used his attacking instincts to good effect.
1. Ricardo Carvalho – 292 matches
Just a few have been adored by Jose Mourinho like Ricardo Carvalho, the Portuguese center-back played under him at three separate clubs, and that includes when he was past his best at Real Madrid. With 292 appearances, he is officially the most used player by the Portuguese manager.
Carvalho lifted the 2004 Champions League with Mourinho at Porto and afterwards, he moved to Chelsea along with his favourite boss. At London, he went on to play an integral role in one of the Premier League’s greatest ever back-fours, also recording fifteen goals and five assists across the ten seasons he played under him.