Jose Mourinho’s unique moniker, albeit a trifle vain-sounding, for himself is still being frequently used years after his first press conference with Chelsea, and this is the reason why he’s stuck with that unique name.
Mourinho had impressively revitalised Chelsea as a Premier League and European force to be reckoned with when he came on board and took on the reins at Stamford Bridge in 2004, and his reputation as one of football’s best – and charismatic – coaches has remained since those early glory years.
But why is he called ‘The Special One’?
Mourinho’s alluring moniker dates back to when he first arrived at Stamford Bridge in 2004, and told reporters in his inaugural press conference that he thought of himself as a “special one” – a name which has stuck with him since then.
“Please don’t call me arrogant, but I’m a European champion and I think I’m a special one,” Mourinho said.
As the Portuguese manager was not ranked amongst the top echelons in football at the time, despite his reputation having risen after he led underdogs Porto to a Champions League title in the 2003-04 season, his self-proclamation immediately caused a frenzy within the UK media, coning across as an insolent boast ahead of his first season coaching in the Premier League – even if it was a tag that was evidently earned, due to his tactical prowess and excellent managerial skills.
The Special One moniker became more justified as he continued to enjoy a successful spell as Chelsea manager, going on to become the club’s most trophy-laden coach, winning back-to-back Premier League titles in his first two seasons in west London, setting the record points total for a Premier League-winning team (95) in his first campaign.
When asked in 2019 about the tag and how it has stayed with him in the ensuing years, Mourinho revealed that he had been annoyed with the fact that his coaching talent in English football had been questioned after he had arrived at Chelsea and his instant reaction led to proclaiming himself the ‘Special One’.
“When I gave my first press conference I was asked if I was ready for the Premier League,” Mourinho told Sky sports.
“I thought: ‘What? I just won the Champions League and you are thinking that I am nobody?’
“So, I went a little bit aggressive by saying I am not one from the bottle, I am a special one. But then, bang, it stayed. No problem.”
Interestingly, the moniker found the spotlight again when Jurgen Klopp joined Liverpool as manager in October 2015, and the German was quizzed about if he would echo Mourinho’s self-proclaimed ‘Special One’ label.
Instead, the German referred to himself as the “Normal One”.
“I don’t want to describe myself,” Klopp said in the press conference, bursting into a fit of laughter.
“The only thing I ask is ‘does anybody in this room think that I can do wonders?’ No? Let me work. I’m a totally normal guy. I came from the Black Forest.
“I am a totally normal guy, I am ‘The Normal One’ maybe.”
Well, there it is, a tale of two eccentricities.