Jose Mourinho has admitted he “ran away” from his Inter players after winning the Champions League in 2010 – because he was afraid he would not be able to leave the club for Real Madrid otherwise.
A decade ago, Mourinho guided Inter to a unique Italian treble of Serie A, Coppa Italia and the Champions League, completed by winning the latter after defeating Bayern Munich 2-0 in the final at the Santiago Bernabeu.
Mourinho returned there the following season as head coach of Madrid, leaving Inter after making history in just two years in charge of the Italian club – however, despite his spell in Milan being short, the Portuguese coach admits it was a huge wrench to leave.
The manager, now with Premier League club Tottenham, recalled a tearful embrace with Inter defender Marco Materazzi outside the Madrid stadium after the final, at which point it was an open secret that he would move to the Liga club for the following campaign.
Although Mourinho says he wanted to move to Real for the challenge, he found it too difficult and emotional to say goodbye to his Inter players and the fans – and feels that if he had returned to the Italian city, he might not have left.
Mourinho told The Athletic:
“When I had these last words with Materazzi, it was like I was hugging every player which is something I tried not to do. I was on the pitch with them in the celebrations, in the medals, in the cup. I was with them but then I didn’t go back to the dressing room because I didn’t want to say goodbye.
“It was too hard for me and I didn’t want to leave with them for Milan because people were saying I had a contract with Real Madrid. It was not true. I had an agreement, but I did not have a contract signed.
“I really wanted to go to Real Madrid at that time. I really wanted to try to win the Spanish league after the English and Italian leagues – but I feared that if I go back to Milan with the team and, with the reaction of the players and the fans, I was afraid of not being able to leave. I can say that I ran away. I ran away from them.”