We’ve worked with a genius – no-one has more brains than Stephen Hawking.
We’ve worked with sporting greats, too. Floyd Mayweather donned Paddy pants while Paul Scholes threw his own punches with us to kickstart his punditry career.
And then there was Jose.
Part sporting great. Part genius. The Special One. The now Paddy Power one.
It ain’t easy to nail down a man who has won three Premier League titles, four European trophies including two Champions Leagues, a treble in Portugal, a record-breaking points La Liga winning season, two Serie As and the Coppa Italia. Oh, and three trophies with United.
But one day in late August, in a (super posh) backstreet venue in North London, we did just that.
We’ll be honest, we didn’t know what to expect. Others have described his genius as ‘arrogant’ or ‘grumpy’, sometimes even ‘cocky’ but we can put the record straight and tell you this – it’s a load of bollocks.
Inside football, it’s known that the biggest names have melted when they met Jose. We’ve heard stories of footballing royalty going weak at the knees. Global superstars get stage-fright.
Just before 9am, Jose strolls in for action. He’s prompt. And he’s smiling. Beaming. The room stops. The man has more presence than an elf at Christmas. (Okay, we haven’t got the metaphor down to a T, but you get the gist).
It’s like someone has just turned a light on – for the room is suddenly bright. The Mourinho effect. ‘Arrogant’ and ‘grumpy’ apparently – not one bit.
Enough of the fan-boy stuff, we’re here for business. We have script after script for him to get through. There is no requirement for him to help write it – just execute. He needs to get in, shoot the scenes, then get out. Two days of filming and job done.
But it soon becomes clear we’re dealing with a perfectionist – whether he’s in or out of the dugout. Jose reads the script once, twice and his mind is in overdrive. Change this, change that, this will work better here. The pen comes out, the scripts get changed.
We’ve a line about a Special Menu. He gets it – but it’s just not right. ‘Why don’t you write it like this?’ Jose says. He tells his own story about what it’s like when he goes out for dinners and suggests drawing from that. ‘I’ll laugh at this point,’ he continues – ‘then we’ll play it out like this.’
He’s right, it’s better. Mourinho is the boss.
Literally. Hall-of-fame football manager turned part-time scriptwriter.
The shooting begins and Mourinho is a natural. Of course he is. The ultimate one-take man. Several times, he talks scenes through in detail with the director pre-take, getting every beat and smile spot on. To an onlooker, you’d be hard pushed to say which man was the director and which was the talent following instructions.
Jose is the consummate pro, he wants to be busy. Nothing can break his stride. Nothing, it seems, except from a hedge.
So a little context. Rewind the clock back a year. Chelsea fans gave Jose an earful at Stamford Bridge and he responded by putting his fingers up – three of them, not two. For those with short memories, three Premier League titles won while managing them was the message.
A few weeks later Juventus fans gave out the stick – and Jose’s response was the same. Another three fingers. This time a reference to the treble he won as Inter manager in the 2009/10 season – the Champions League, the Coppa Italia after knocking Juve out, and the Serie A.
Anyhow, back to garden matters. Paddy sculpted said hedge himself – ahem – into that very three-finger salute. Jose sees it, and Jose loves it. Loves it so much, in fact, that he whips out his phone to get a selfie with it. Then he proceeds to send it to a pal – Marco Materazzi. As you do.
As if that isn’t enough, he then makes another call – to his driver, to come and collect the hedge and take it home. Mrs Mourinho’s reaction is TBC.
To lunch, where we ask the Special One to pick anything he wants and we’ll get it brought in. Though we avoid any Special Menu gag – he’s already told us our line wasn’t up to scratch.
We get ready to call in the lobster. Or maybe caviar.
That’s what the rich and famous eat, right?
Not Jose. He wants a McDonald’s – a Double Cheeseburger Meal and Chicken Nuggets. That’s our kind of bloke.