The first leg of the Europa League semi-final between Roma and Bayer Leverkusen will see a duel between Jose Mourinho, a proven master, and one of his most gifted pupils in Xabi Alonso.
“I have learned a lot from all my coaches and I have transformed it into my own personality as a coach who is starting out. Rafa (Benitez) is football, tactics: how to fit in, how to help, what to do… Pep (Guardiola) tells you: ‘Let’s play like this and this will happen’. He is very good at that,” Alonso told Movistar Plus.
“From Mourinho I highlight the strength and intelligence he has to communicate. From Luis (Aragones) I’d like to highlight his conviction and his ability to define what you wanted. Del Bosque taught me to worry about the things you have to worry about.
“Ancelotti stood out when it came to transmitting what good football is and what we had to do,” he said.
His apprenticeship under Ancelotti, Guardiola, Mourinho, Pellegrini, Bentez, Denoueix, Toshack, Olabe, Ziarreta and Clemente and his time in LaLiga (Real Sociedad, Eibar and Real Madrid), the Premier League (Liverpool) and the Bundesliga (Bayern) have contributed to making the now Bayer Leverkusen coach a ‘chameleon-like’ coach. “The fact that I’ve known different championships allows me to adapt quickly,” he admits.
Time under Mourinho
The Bayer Leverkusen coach played three seasons under ‘The Special One’ playing 151 games, scored three goals, distributed 23 assists and won three titles: a LaLiga title (2011-12), a Copa del Rey (2010-11) and a Supercopa de Espana (2012).
Very strong values
“Mourinho fights for the people close to him and defends them. He is demanding of others because he is demanding of himself. The coach has very, very strong values,” he stressed in 2011. “He was a very important coach when he arrived. We were left with the regret of not being able to win the Champions League with him, but we reached three semi-finals,” Alonso admitted to The Coaches Voice after his retirement.
“Jose is one of the best coaches I’ve ever had. I was marked by his reading of matches and his ability to react when the occasion demands it,” he replied when asked, more specifically, about Mourinho in L’Equipe.
The Roma coach, back in 2010, predicted Alonso’s success in the dugout in an interview on the FIFA website: “He has the quality that a ‘metronome’ must have. I’m sure that when he hangs up his boots he’ll be a great coach if he wants to be. He reminds me of Pep Guardiola when I had him as a player. He was already a coach on the pitch.”
Now they meet again with a place in the Europa League final at stake. We’ll see who wins, the pupil… or the master.