Mourinho shows Young Lions what it means to be mentally tough
Okay, it was more like face-to-camera since he never even saw me, but at least now I can add Mourinho to the list of top footballing personalities that I’ve been in the same room with.
Yes, it was a virtual room, I know, but since air travel has gone the way of dinosaurs, it’s as good as it’s going to get for a long time to come.
So thank you, AIA Singapore. I’m not saying you should sponsor Footballsiao.com, home to the craziest EPL football fans in Singapore, but I’m not saying you shouldn’t either.
With that out of the way, I must say that I learned a lot from Mourinho in the session. For one, for a manager that’s been rumoured to death by the media as facing a potential sack, he showed no signs of any pressure at all. Throughout the 45 minutes, he was relaxed, friendly and candid.
WATCH: Mourinho Instagram masterclass
Like when asked what are the five things he can do without in his life, he said, idiots, big money, flashy cars, politicians and after an exceedingly long pause, journalists, that last one with a wry smile. His PR team was probably scrambling in the background, but I thought it was extremely honest given how some factions of the press have been treating him.
And yes, this was a PR event, so no real journalists were harmed in the process, and all questions were screened, which is why my colleague Noah Tan’s question of what colour is North London was not asked by the host, Joakim Gomez (the answer is clearly white since 2016).
And boy, was he honest. When asked about how he keeps his Spurs team strong and stable, Mourinho said: “With the results that we have, we cannot speak about strong and stable. We wouldn’t be a great example of how to keep motivated all the time.”
As a Spurs fan, ouch. But yes, true. He did go on to explain that he wanted his players to understand how privileged they were, especially the world in the shape it is now where people are losing jobs, struggling with income and being unable to travel.
Added Mourinho: “We can work, we can come to the training ground, we can have social relationships. We can travel and go to other countries and other cities. We do what we most like to do, to train and to play, we have our salaries, so compared with others, we are very, very privileged. If you don’t understand that, you have a problem.”
I also learned that Mourinho isn’t a fan of the younger generation of footballers, or at least, those who enjoy the trappings of the lifestyle football brings to them, rather than the sport itself. When answering a question posed by a 12-year-old aspiring footballer, he said: “Love football, dream about football. Don’t dream about what football can give you. Many new generation footballers are not in love with football, but what football can give them, what lifestyle football can give them. This is not real motivation.”
He added: “Older players 32, 34, 36, 38, even Zlatan Ibrahimović, 39, these are people who are not in love with what football can give you. These are people who are in love with football. Love football, love every moment in training, playing, watching the top pros. If you love it, that’s the most important.”
WATCH: The goal that announced Zlatan to the world
Earlier, when asked what his best motivational speech was, he also touched on this generation of footballers, while saying that the best team doesn’t need motivational speeches.
“Everybody outside thinks it is the coach who can perform miracles. If somebody thinks that, it's putting responsibility on someone who cannot perform miracles. This is happening a lot in this generation. In the past, it was based on personal responsibility. Now it's giving them excuses to run away from responsibilities,” said Mourinho.
The most interesting thing I learned was the word Mourinista. He explained that these are people that he never met, but people who love him, and cited them as a source of strength for him, apart from himself. I don’t know if I’m a Mourinista yet, but this session has done a lot to make me closer to one.
He also doesn’t hate his critics, and in fact, thought that criticism is what makes football a beautiful game.
“I am so used to people that they think they know more about my job than myself. Football, it is a global game, a universal language. You don’t discuss rocket science with NASA, but everyone thinks they can discuss football with the most important managers in the game and that’s a beautiful thing,” said Mourinho.
See? I am doing my part in making football a beautiful thing (don’t shoot the messenger).
WATCH: Mourinho calls for Spurs to show heart in every game
The highlight of the entire session was when Harhys and Philippe came on to each ask Mourinho questions. Not so much because they asked tough questions, but because if there’s any team in the Singapore Premier League (SPL) that needs mental toughness to help them navigate a potentially tough season ahead, it’s the Young Lions. Granted, under Philippe’s guidance, they have already shown glimpses of that with two impressive draws against the seasoned professionals at Balestier Khalsa and Geylang International.
But, seeing one of the world’s best coaches up close showing no signs of pressure despite only just being unceremoniously knocked out of the Europa League by an average side would have taught them a thing or two about the mindset one needed to thrive at that level.
And he was a straight shooter in answering their questions as well.
Harhys wanted to know what it took to get noticed at his level and Mourinho unequivocally said that the professional scouting system today is so good that no matter which country one played for, if you’re good enough, you will be noticed. Which is pretty much saying, if you’ve not been noticed, it’s probably because you’re not good enough.
Philippe asked how he chose the clubs he wanted to manage. His answer, which was that he always chose a club that was the most challenging (again, ouch as a Spurs fan), and always avoided choosing clubs that was easy to win the league, would no doubt have given Philippe a huge boost to his season ahead, seeing that there probably isn’t a more challenging job in the SPL today than coaching the Young Lions.
WATCH: One year of Mourinho at Spurs
All in, this was good fun. Head on over to AIA’s Facebook page where, following the session, they are organising a contest where you can win a jersey of the best sixth place team in the world today.