Louis van Gaal succeeded Bobby Robson as Barcelona manager in 1997.
The 62-year-old incumbent Manchester United boss has revealed in Maarteen Meijer’s explosive book titled ‘Louis van Gaal – The Biography’ that he appointed Jose Mourinho as assistant manager at Barca because of his “loyalty”.
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho had worked with Robson, Van Gaal’s predecessor as an interpreter at the Nou Camp.
But when Van Gaal arrived at the club to resume duty, he took all the staff out to introduce himself and during dinner somebody criticised aspects of Robson’s regime. Mourinho, believing he was on his way out anyway, spoke up in passionate defence of his former boss.
It was Mourinho’s first managerial opportunity afforded him by Van Gaal and the Portuguese went on to win seven league titles in four different countries in an illustrious coaching career, including two Champions League trophies with FC Porto and Inter Milan.
Mourinho went on to christen himself the ‘The Special One’, after a dramatic transformation from Robson’s interpreter to one of football’s greatest coaches, thanks to Van Gaal’s faith in him.
“I liked this man who had the confidence and the loyalty to support the last coach, even if he thought it might cost him his job, Van Gaal explained.
“I thought that if he could be so loyal to Mr Robson, he would be loyal to me, too, and that we would work well together.
“I sometimes think I was the only guy at the club who believed in Jose.”
Van Gaal allowed the young [Mourinho] take charge of training sessions and at times speak to the media in his place, and together in three years they won two La Liga titles and the Copa del Rey.
Mourinho said: “We lived very close – my home was 15 metres from his – and we worked 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
“I used to work like a beast, but I was happy to do so. I learned a lot from him. One of the main things was that if you want to get anywhere, you have to work very hard.
“He gave me the confidence to coach the team on the pitch. He was very important in my development.”