Jose Mourinho mentioned Frank Lampard, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Javier Zanetti and Cristiano Ronaldo when asked to name the best player he has ever coached.
Mourinho, who on Wednesday said he would prefer to wait until the summer to take a new job, won 22 trophies with Porto, Chelsea (twice), Inter Milan and Real Madrid, including two Champions League titles, three Premier Leagues, two Serie A titles and a La Liga crown.
“Who was my best player? It’s so difficult to say and I coached some of the best players in the world,” Mourinho told the Straits Times.
“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 got to Madrid, I had [Cristiano] Ronaldo. I come back to Chelsea and I find other top players.
“I have so many, they gave me so much, 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.”
Mourinho’s biggest disappointments
Mourinho was also asked about his biggest disappointments as a manager, unsurprisingly highlighting his Champions League semi-final defeats.
The Portuguese holds the record for the most managerial appearances in the last four, but he has won just two of his eights ties at that stage of the tournament and has lost on penalties twice – against Liverpool for Chelsea in 2007, and against Bayern Munich for Real Madrid in 2012.
“I was lucky to be in the finals, but I also lost in the semi-finals on penalties,” Mourinho said. “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 semifinals.”
Asked which his favourite games as a manager were, Mourinho added: “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 vs. Milan, Inter vs. Juventus. 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.”