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Org Portugal National Team
Club as Player FC Porto

2020 06 06 Retrieve

[How Porto, Costinha & Howard helped create ‘The Special One’] I remember that in the moment we did nothing that Jose told us to do. Nothing we did was a Mourinho plan! The coach can prepare you perfectly for games but there are moments when players change things by themselves - and in a good way. In that particular moment, we didn’t do what Mourinho wanted. We did it differently. But the ball went into the net. Howard had dropped it and [John O’Shea](john-o-shea.html) was caught ball-watching and didn’t react quickly. I did, though, and when I scored, I just saw the image of my supporters. I forgot everything in that moment and just went over to celebrate with them. What a feeling!

[The pair’s relationship had become strained in the preceding months and they were barely speaking at the time. However, after Porto were pitted against United in the last 16, Mourinho approached Costinha while the midfielder was stretching at the end of a training session] He said; ‘Costa, look at the draw: Manchester United. The first game is at home and the second away. ‘You are suspended for the first game but we will beat them by a goal and then, you will be there in the second game when they will press us. ‘Long balls, duels and you will put them out of the competition.’ He then stood up and left. What else can I tell you about Mourinho? He was right: that’s exactly what happened. He always gave us the right input at the right time. He managed our mentality perfectly. He always kept us focused. Even when I was talking to an Italian club at the time, he called me in the hotel afterwards and he said; ‘Costa, stay with us, we are going to win the league and the Champions League. Then, you can go to England or Italy’. He always talked to you like that. And you believed him and it made you more confident. So, we went into matches with more belief than we would have normally had.

2020 06 09 Retrieve

[Former Portugal captain Costinha has been impressed with Bruno Fernandes’ fantastic performances for Manchester United] He is a fantastic footballer. I don’t know him as a person, but sometimes I message him on Instagram. I remember his debut at United (against Wolves) and his socks were down after 70 minutes. I said to him: ‘Don’t worry about that.’ I saw in his head he was tired and wanted to come off. He wasn’t used to the rhythm. I just said: ‘Don’t worry, once you get used to that rhythm with all the intelligence in your head and ability in your feet, then it will be easier for you’. He is making very good progress and he is playing very well for United. They need time after moving on from Sir Alex Ferguson under new leadership and with a different mentality, but they still play to win every tournament. The history of Manchester United tells you to win every tournament. If you go there, you have to win all the cups, and that includes the Champions League. You are talking about Man United - it is one of the biggest clubs in the world. How many players want to play for Man United? Many would love to play there. It is a fantastic club

2020 06 10 Retrieve

[Costinha says Cristiano Ronaldo’s pursuit of footballing perfection is so great that he gets upset if he misses even one shot in training] Madrid’s players were shooting against the goalkeepers and in 20 shots, he [Ronaldo] missed one. Most other players missed six or 10. When he missed, everyone started joking with him and he became very upset. He then picked up a bag of balls and he went shooting alone on goal. For him, he had to shoot all 20 well. How many players can do that? It showed his character. He doesn’t allow himself to miss one chance. This is very important. Some people see him upset on the pitch because a pass isn’t good or he does a bad shot and they misunderstand him. His character is just like this. I even asked Mourinho after training: ‘What happened with Cristiano?’ He said to leave him and that he will be ready. He was so focused on what he had to do that he didn’t accept a miss, especially when everyone was joking and they knew he would get upset. He is a fantastic guy and footballer.

You could see immediately that he wanted to become the best. He trained to be the best. He was really amazing. He was a player who respected the older players and he asked a lot of questions to become better. Bit by bit, he took his spot in the team, and Portugal has benefitted a lot from his personality and leadership. He works hard. He doesn’t sit and wait for things to arrive to him. He searches out how to be a better player. If he sees people saying someone in the opposition’s team is better than him, then he must show him and the world who really is the best. He benefitted a lot from Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United, and that team made him more aggressive. It taught him when to dribble and when to pass the ball. Still, his belief was so strong that he would rise up the ranks. It isn’t possible not to love Ronaldo unless you are jealous. He is humble and I am happy for the success he had today. I saw him work to become the best and I am Portuguese, so he makes me proud

[Porto would go onto knock out both Lyon and Deportivo La Coruna in the latter stages before beating Costinha’s former club, Monaco, in the final]

Lyon were a fantastic team. They had Michael Essien and Florent Malouda, who both went to Chelsea in England. They also had Elber, Juninho Pernambucano and Sidney Govou. I remember I called Claude Puel, who was my coach in Monaco, and he gave me advice. He said: ‘Costa, Lyon are always slow in the first 10 minutes of the first and second half’. I told that to Mourinho, and if you see the goals we scored against them, they were in those first 10 minutes of either half. We were playing very good football and we were confident after beating Manchester United. It made other clubs a bit scared of us. We were known in Europe despite not being in the top group of European clubs. After beating Lyon, we faced a fantastic Deportivo La Coruna side. In the first leg, we drew at home 0-0. We went there and all the city had Spanish or La Coruna flags out. Mourinho stopped the bus, he looked at us and said: ‘See, they already believe they are going to the final. Are you going to allow this to happen?’ He was inside our heads before the game. We played a perfect game and played very well. We had eight players on yellow cards who were trying not to get a yellow so they could play in the final. None of them got a yellow card, which showed we were very focused on what we wanted to do.

In the end, we arrived at the final against Monaco. It was a fantastic victory for this group. We had almost all the city of Porto waiting for us. I think almost all the players said after winning the Champions League that it was because of the mentality that Mourinho gave us. I don’t think the players understood the importance of winning the Champions League. We just thought: ‘Oh, okay, we won another one.’ Every time I go abroad it means something to be a Champions League winner, which makes me understand now how important it was to win it

[He has gone onto manage Pacos Ferreira, Academica and Nacional in his homeland, and having recently completed his UEFA Pro Licence in Scotland] I want to be an important coach. I want to win titles as a coach but I know it is very difficult and you have to work a lot. I understood in this year that I needed to improve in certain areas, so this break [since leaving Nacional in 2019] was also important for me. You need to speak the languages when you move. I watched movies and listened to music in English which helped me learn as a kid. I used to watch romantic comedies and listen to rock music like AC/DC, Def Leppard and Whitesnake. I always tried to understand the lyrics so learning English, for me, was comfortable. I am very happy I took those measures. I also speak French, Italian and Spanish, but not Russian despite playing there. I am just waiting like all coaches who don’t have work. I have had a few offers and I am studying those offers, but I want to coach at a high level. This must be step-by-step, but I am anxious to start again. In the beginning, I didn’t think I would love this job, but I enjoy it and it is something that gives me a lot of pleasure. I like teaching my players and passing on my knowledge.

I want to make players believe that they can arrive at these top clubs like I did after playing in the lower leagues. Of course, you need talent, and if I didn’t have talent, then I couldn’t get there. I think the mentality is the right word to give to this subject, and for the players to achieve something like this in their career. I have influences of many coaches in my time. I learned from them all: Mourinho, Puel, Conte, Scolari, Javier Aguirre. Football is changing. Everybody is looking and trying to adapt football in the best way possible. You look at other ideas you can adapt for your club, but different players mean you create different ways. I see many fantastic coaches around Europe but I have my own philosophies. Then, I looked at [Jurgen] Klopp, [Diego] Simeone, [Thomas] Tuchel and [Julian] Nagelsmann. You can look at them to pick up things for the future