Ricardo Carvalho has hailed Jose Mourinho's unique ability to analyse matches and acknowledged the debt he owes the Chelsea boss in making his career a glittering one.
Carvalho, 35, saw his star rise alongside that of Mourinho, who made the centre-back a part of his Champions League-winning side at Porto before the pair both moved to Stamford Bridge in the wake of that European title in 2004.
After winning two Premier League titles, an FA Cup and a pair of League Cups together in England, Mourinho then brought Carvalho to Real Madrid in 2010, allowing the former Portuguese international to add a La Liga title and Copa del Rey winner's medal to his well-stocked trophy cabinet.
Though he stopped short of calling his former boss the best in the world, Carvalho told L'Equipe 'the Special One' is a special talent in the dug-out.
"He sees games better than other coaches, that's for sure," he said. "We haven't always agreed on things, because he is too demanding, but I've won a lot with him. He asked a huge amount of me, and I grew up thanks to him."
Like Mourinho, Carvalho endured a testing time at Madrid where he played just 17 La Liga games in two seasons before moving to Monaco on a free transfer last summer. Given his advancing age and lack of playing time in recent campaigns, the Ligue 1 side offered Carvalho just a single-season contract with an option for a second.
The defender, who only missed his first league game of the French top-flight campaign last weekend due to a cold, is optimistic he can convince the club they should retain him regardless of those bound to arrive at the Stade Louis II next summer.
"If the club brings in other players, they will have to prove they are better than Abidal or me. I still have the legs, and it would motivate me to stay. I feel really good here, and I would prefer to stay rather than go to Dubai or the USA," said Carvalho, who rejected longer-term and more lucrative offers from the Persian Gulf and the MLS to remain in Europe.
"I knew that I could have a good season here. I had lost my place at Real through a knee injury and I wasn't able to get it back. Without injury, I know that I can be good and I have never doubted I could establish myself at Monaco. If I had doubted, I would have gone elsewhere."