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Mourinho in LMA Hall of Fame

Jose Mourinho was inducted into the League Managers Association's Hall of Fame on Sunday, claiming his time in England was "the best time of my career so far".

The race in Spain

The former Chelsea manager, now in charge of Real Madrid, was speaking as a guest of honour at the LMA's annual Hall of Fame dinner at London's Park Lane hotel.

On joining Sir Alex Ferguson, Sir Matt Busby, Bob Paisley and Arsene Wenger in the Hall of Fame, Mourinho said: "I am very proud of this because I am not British and I spent just over three years in the Barclays Premier League - which is not a significant time to create a big history.

"But the time I spent here was the best time of my career so far - and that's despite winning the Champions League in Portugal and Italy. Tonight is special for me as I get to see people I like very much and respect. I still have a home here and me and my family are still in love and will always be in love with this country. So to be back is almost to be at home.

"The atmosphere, the intensity and the emotion in England is something you cannot compare with other countries and for somebody who is really in love with the game, as I am, this is the place where you enjoy it the most.''

The LMA encourages younger coaches who want to be managers to serve an apprenticeship and have a mentor - and Mourinho spoke of his time learning from Sir Bobby Robson at Barcelona.

He explained: "I was a lucky man because I have had some crucial moments in my career and one of the crucial moments was when I had the chance to work with him - not just because he was as a great manager but he was a great person. I think everybody who had the chance to meet him and had a few moments, or in my case a few years, felt privileged.

"I learned so much from my experiences with him. I always remember with a little smile that after I was upset after a defeat he said 'don't be sad because in the other dressing room someone is bouncing around with happiness' - so I always remember good moments with him and every moment was a good one.''

United boss Ferguson, now 69, said this week he has no intention of retiring and 47-year-old Mourinho is also hoping for a long career in management.

He explained: "I hope he continues for years and I get to face him a few more times. When I am in my 50s or 60s, I also see myself still in football with the same ambitions and desires. So I understand why he wants to continue. It was the same with Bobby Robson. I see myself continuing for many years.''

On his own career Mourinho said: "In the beginning I had the pressure because I went into management after not being a top player, so I had a lot of things to prove. After Porto the pressure was the question 'can he achieve abroad?' Everything then went well in England. Italy is the home of tactics, so the question then was 'is he a good leader and a good tactician, can he compete in this world of football?' Yes I could.

"Now I go to Spain and everybody says 'Real Madrid is an incredible club, a club different to any other club - can he cope with it?' So I am trying to prove that I can and step by step, stage by stage with this new challenge it motivates me more and more.''

Mourinho is looking forward to next Monday's El Classico with Spanish title rivals Barcelona at the Nou Camp.

He added: "It is a different game for me because when I played Barcelona in the Champions League with Chelsea and Inter, it was stay in the competition or go out. This is a league game, so yes it is against a rival and yes it is first against second but this game is one of 38 matches in the Spanish Championship.''

The event also focused on the FA Cup and LMA chief executive Richard Bevan added: "Tonight has been a unique evening, bringing together football managers past and present, celebrating their achievements in one of the game's most famous cup competitions...and Jose Mourinho added to a truly memorable evening.''


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