Exactly 18 years ago, 39 Years old Jose Mourinho was appointed manager of Portuguese football team, FC Porto. Mourinho’s appointment went ahead to be the best in the club’s history and as well sky rocketed Mourinho’s personal managerial profile.
Jose Mourinho took over the job on January 23, 2002 and spent two-and-a-half seasons with the club, winning a total of 6 trophies, including the Champions League in 2004.
Porto were struggling, at the time when Jose took over the club and were on the fifth place in the Portuguese league. Mourinho guided the team to the third place that year, winning 11 out of 15 league games and gave the promise of “making Porto champions next year”.
He had a squad full of generational talents who became club legends in their own rights such as Maniche, Ricardo Carvalho, Paulo Ferreira, Constinha, Nuno Valente, captain Jorge Costa, and the biggest star in the team – Deco.
In the 2002/03 season, Porto won three titles: Primera Liga, Taca de Portugal, and the UEFA Cup.
They won the league 11 points clear of Benfica and the total of 86 points out of the possible maximum of 102 was a Portuguese record since the rule of three points per win was introduced.
But that was just an introduction for what was about to come in the next season. Porto retained the Portuguese title in 2004, finishing the campaign with a perfect home record of 17 wins.
They showed their real quality with a massive scalping of Manchester United in the Champions League’s round of 16, in which Mourinho became most memorable with his iconic celebration along the touchline at Old Trafford when Costinha scored a last-gasp goal to send Porto in the quarter-finals.
Jose and his boys were a bit lucky as well because Paul Scholes had a clear goal disallowed, which would have made the score 2-0 for Manchester United.
In the quarter-finals, Porto won 4-2 on aggregate against Olympique Lyon and Derlei’s penalty-kick goal was the only one in the semi-finals against Deportivo La Coruna, as Porto progressed to their first Champions League final in the new format of the competition.
They faced Monaco in the final played in Gelsenkirchen on 26 May 2004. The French side had eliminated Real Madrid and Chelsea on their way to Germany, but Porto was just too good for them.
Carlos Alberto scored the first goal of the game in 39th minute, while Deco and Alenichev secured a comfortable 3-0 victory for FC Porto, winning the second European crown in the club’s history.
Simao Sabrosa’s extra-time goal in the Taca de Portugal final against Benfica denied them a historic treble, but they have already achieved the unthinkable.
Benni McCarthy was the club’s top scorer with 25 goals in all competitions, while Deco was the best assistant with 14 assists throughout the season.
Jose Mourinho’s Porto may be the most surprising winner of the Champions League in recent history and this is a story that will always have a special place in the history of European football.
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