Real Madrid to sign Jose Mourinho as coach
MADRID—Real Madrid fired Manuel Pellegrini and plans to hire Jose Mourinho as its new coach once he negotiates an end to his contract with Inter Milan.
Madrid president Florentino Perez said during a news conference Wednesday at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium that the coaching change was a difficult decision, but that "we are at the right moment to give the club new impetus and to go for one of the best coaches in the world."
The announcement comes four days after Mourinho led Inter Milan to the Champions League title with a victory over Bayern Munich. His team also completed an Italian treble following victories in Serie A and the Italian Cup.
After a successful stint in England, Mourinho long ago announced his ambition to work in Spain and thus win trophies in another of Europe's major soccer leagues.
"Everyone at the club is very enthusiastic to be able to count on one of the best coaches in the world. We think he is going to contribute a lot to our very important squad," Perez said at the news conference, where neither Mourinho nor Pellegrini was present.
Perez called Pellegrini's performance "impeccable," even though speculation had hung over the coach's future for much of the season. The Portuguese-born Mourinho's name was frequently mentioned by media as a likely replacement for the Chilean coach.
As the season drew to a close, Mourinho made his dislike for Italian soccer clear.
"I am very happy at Inter -- I am not happy with Italian (soccer)," he told Sky Sports in March. "Why? Because I don't like it and it doesn't like me."
Mourinho said he'd like to coach Madrid "one day," making it a logical destination.
Madrid had been knocked out of the Champions League in the round of 16 each of the past six years, and is desperate to be crowned European champion for the 10th time. Mourinho endeared himself to club with his success at Inter Milan and his victory over Madrid's rival, Barcelona.
The 47-year-old Mourinho was an unsuccessful player whose big break in coaching came when he was hired as an interpreter for English coach Bobby Robson at Lisbon side Sporting.
Robson took Mourinho with him to Porto and the his influence increased as he took on coaching responsibilities. The duo moved to Barcelona for the 1996-97 season and Mourinho remained at the club under Louis van Gaal following the Englishman's departure.
Back in Portugal, Mourinho failed to win titles during stints as a senior coach at Uniao Leiria and Benfica. That changed with his first full season at Benfica's rival Porto, where he won the league, Portuguese Cup and UEFA Cup in 2003.
The following season, Mourinho he led modest Porto to the league and Champions League titles, winning the final 3-0 against Monaco.
Billionaire Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich immediately hired the coach, who on arriving in London described himself as "a special one." The phrase stuck and he was subsequently nicknamed "The Special One" by the British press.
Abramovich's faith was repaid when Chelsea won the league for the first time in 50 years in 2005. Mourinho retained the title the following year and by the time he left the club early in the 2007-08 season after friction with the Russian owner, he had won all of English soccer's major domestic honors.
The only glaring gap in his resume was a failure to repeat the European success he had orchestrated at Porto, despite having a much more expensive and star-studded squad.
However, at Inter Milan he proved that early triumph was no fluke. Real Madrid is now betting on its new coach winning not only the league title in a fourth country, but also the third Champions League trophy of his career.
Associated Press Writer Harold Heckle in Madrid contributed to this story.