Every manager has their favourites, even Jose Mourinho.
Over the years, the Special One has coached some of the very finest players the game has had to offer, from Cristiano Ronaldo and Frank Lampard, to Javier Zanetti and Deco.
But there’s only a small bunch who’ve had the pleasure of playing under the enigmatic coach more than once.
Since the arrival of Romelu Lukaku and Nemanja Matic at Manchester United this summer, we’ve decided to look back at the lucky few who’ve played under Mourinho for more one club.
Derlei – U.D. Leiria & Porto
Mourinho’s first big favourite was the powerful Brazilian forward Derlei.
When Mourinho arrived at lowly Leiria in 2001, Derlei was already the club’s main attacking outlet.
And together, the side finished an impressive seventh place in the Primeira Liga, with Derlei finishing the 2001–02 season with 21 goals.
When Mourinho moved to Porto the following season, he brought the Brazilian with him and together they won everything, including the league title, the UEFA Cup and the Champions League.
Nuno Valente – U.D. Leiria & Porto
Someone who made a similar trip from Leira to Porto was reliable full-back Nuno Valente.
The Portuguese left-back, along with Derlei, was Mourinho’s first signing when he moved to Porto and was a key figure in the club’s resounding success between 2002 and 2004.
Everton fans may remember him well, as he later spent four seasons at Goodison Park before retiring in 2009.
Ricardo Carvalho – Porto, Chelsea & Real Madrid
Before the arrival of Mourinho, Carvalho was very much on the fringes at Porto.
But that soon changed, as the centre-back became an important part of the Special One’s UEFA Cup success during his first season at the club.
By their second season together, Carvalho had won the the treble, was duly named Portuguese League Footballer of the Year and was named among the very best centre-backs at Euro 2004.
That summer, Carvalho joined Chelsea as one of Mourinho’s first signings at the club, going onto win countless honours during his six seasons in the Premier League, including three league titles.
He remained at the club after Mourinho left in 2007, but the pair would be reunited once again at Real Madrd in 2010, once again becoming one of the Portuguese’s first signings at his new club.
Can you name a more iconic duo?
Paulo Ferreira – Porto & Chelsea
Another former Porto favourite who moved to West London during that dreamy summer of 2004; Ferreira’s spell at Stamford Bridge was a little less memorable than that of his compatriot Carvalho, although he was the Blue’s main right-back during Mourinho’s successful first two seasons at the club.
After that, he faced strong competition in the position, but stuck around to compete for places with the likes of Julian Belletti, Jose Bosingwa and Branislav Ivanovic.
In fact, he probably stayed at the club longer than you realised, and even picked up a Champions League winners medal as an unused substitute in that final against Bayern Munich.
A true club legend.
Maniche – Porto & Chelsea
Mourinho sure loved his ex-Porto players, and dipped into the old band once again in 2006 when he signed Maniche on loan.
The Portuguese midfielder made only a handful of appearances for the Blues during their 2005–06 title season, not even enough to pick up a Premier League medal.
Hernan Crespo – Chelsea & Inter
One of the more reluctant names on this list.
Mourinho’s arrival at Chelsea wasn’t all good news, as he quickly snapped up a certain Didier Drogba from Marseille, making Crespo surplus to requirements just a year after he’d arrived from Inter.
So, a year at AC Milan beckoned, albeit on loan, before returning to the Blues the season after to provide competition for Drogba.
One year later and it was the same story, this time he found himself back at Inter, eventually making his loan move permanent in 2008.
But who wound-up being Inter’s manager that season?
You guessed it.
Once again under Mourinho, Crespo struggled for game time, making only 13 league appearances for the side, including two starts, while he was excluded altogether from their Champions League squad.
Michael Essien – Chelsea & Real Madrid
With one Premier League title under his belt, Mourinho decided to splash the cash on Essien in the summer of 2005.
For those of you old enough to remember, it was one of the more tiresome transfer sagas of the decade, with Chelsea seeing bids of £10m, £16.75m, £18m, £21m and £21m turned down.
They eventually settled on a fee of £26m.
Nine years and countless honours later, Essien left the Blues for Real Madrid in 2014, reuniting with Mourinho in the Spanish capital.
At his first press conference for Los Blancos, Mourinho referred to Essein as his son while Essein referred to Mourinho as his “Daddy”.
Lassana Diarra – Chelsea & Real Madrid
Diarra didn’t enjoy much of run out under Mourinho during their time together at Chelsea, with just a few appearances in midfield and the odd fill-in role at right-back.
After spells at Arsenal and Portsmouth, Diarra joined Madrid in 2008, and once again found himself playing under Mourinho.
It didn’t last long though, with the arrivals of Sami Khedira and Mesut Ozil pushing him out.
Samuel Eto’o – Inter & Chelsea
A Mourinho favourite; Eto’o joined Inter in 2009 as part of Barcelona’s ridiculous bid for Zlatan Ibrahimovic (more on him later).
An instant hit, he won the treble with the side in his first season, becoming the only player to win the treble in consecutive seasons.
Three years later, the Cameroonian linked up with his old boss again, via the peculiar route of Anzhi Makhachkala.
Aged 32 by then, the Blues were not getting the Eto’o of Barcelona and Inter fame, but he was adequate enough.
Juan Mata – Chelsea & Man United
It might be hard to imagine now, but upon Mourinho’s second-coming at Stamford Bridge, Mata was by-and-large the club’s best player – winning Chelsea’s Player of the Year award for two consecutive seasons.
But everything changed under Mourinho, who questioned the Spaniard’s ability to track-back, generally preferring to use Oscar in the playmaker role.
After a frustrating half-season, Mata left for the bright lights of Man United in 2014, becoming David Moyes’ second signing at the club.
He remains there today, even with Mourinho taking over the club last summer.
Though he’s never quite reached the same cult status that he did at Stamford Bridge, Mourinho at least seems to play him regularly.
Seems he was wrong about that one?
Zlatan Ibrahimovic – Inter & Man United
Ah, Zlatan and Mourinho.
One of football’s most intriguing bromances.
During their single season together at Inter, the two egos often clashed.
But that didn’t stop Ibrahimovic notching 25 goals as Mourinho steered Inter to the Serie A title, beginning the start of their close bond.
Later, when describing his old manager, he said: “He was amazing. He dragged out of me things that no other coach has done before. When I played I felt like a Terminator.”
Which is probably why the big Swede joined Mourinho at Man United last summer, as his first big signing.
And you know the rest; 17 goals, three trophies and that knee injury.
Will we see him back in a United shirt this season?
Romelu Lukaku – Chelsea & Man United
In many ways, Lukaku is the perfect Mourinho forward.
Strong, powerful, agile and with an eye for goal.
Just like Derlei, McCarthy, Drogba and Ibrahimovic before him.
But it was a case of too much, too soon when the pair were together at Chelsea, with his missed penalty during the 2013 UEFA Super Cup sealing his fate.
Four years at Eveton, including one on-loan, saw Lukaku grow in confidence and stature.
25 Premier League goals for the Toffees last season was enough to convince Mourinho to go for the player who never quite made it under him before.
And it’s going pretty well so far, wouldn’t you say?
Nemanja Matic – Chelsea & Man United
The newest member of this Mourinho club.
Much like Lukaku, Matic is almost exactly the sort of player the Special One loves.
In the past, the likes of Claude Makelele, Esteban Cambiasso and Xabi Alonso have played that calm role in midfield that Mourinho craves from his sides.
The Serbian played a big part in Chelsea’s title win in 2014-15, and could become the catalyst for United’s success this season.