October 5, 2022

Andre Villas-Boas lifts the lid on life under former mentor Mourinho: ‘When you fall on the wrong side of Jose, that’s when things change’

  • Jose Mourinho and Andre Villas-Boas were once inseparable
  • Mourinho acted as a mentor to Villas-Boas at Porto, Chelsea and Inter
  • But things went sour when Villas-Boas looked to launch his own career
  • Like Mourinho, he went on to manage Porto and then Chelsea 
  • Villas-Boas has lifted the lid on how the pair’s relationship changed 

Andre Villas-Boas has revealed how his relationship with former idol Jose Mourinho changed beyond recognition when he attempted to emerge from his mentor’s shadow.

After both beginning their football education under the late Sir Bobby Robson, the duo were once inseparable as Villas-Boas became a vital member of Mourinho’s analytical backroom staff when he took over at Porto, before subsequently following him to Chelsea and Inter Milan.

But as time ticked on and he continued to learn from his mentor, Villas-Boas had an ever-growing desire to stand on his own two feet and eventually left Inter to pursue his own managerial career at Academica, having previously tried and failed to secure the manager’s job at Braga.

It is at this point their relationship began to fray, with Mourinho thought to feel threatened by his former student’s desire to branch out on his own. Things then deteriorated further as Villas-Boas’s stock rose as he took on two of Mourinho’s former jobs, first at Porto and then at Chelsea.

Despite the deterioration of a relationship which launched his career in football, Villas-Boas can still remember the rush he felt in his early days with Mourinho, though the fact their friendship soured when he left to pursue his own managerial career has left him questioning what went before.

‘In my formative moments working with Jose was the best time of my life – I was able to learn many things and working with him takes you to another level, Villas-Boas said at the aspire4sport congress.

‘You fall in love with him and he becomes your idol. I wanted to be like him, know everything that he knew and absorb all the information he was giving.

‘Then you fall on the wrong side of Jose and that’s when things change and you realise that you’ve been blinded by someone. He has this fascinating capability of getting the best out of you, which has good or bad consequences for people.

‘My consequences were that as a result of the argument or disagreement we had, I started my coaching career.’

When Villas-Boas made the move from Porto to Chelsea in 2011, seven years after Mourinho did the same, comparisons between master and apprentice further intensified.

But while Mourinho won two Premier League titles in his first spell at Stamford Bridge, Villas-Boas found his first experience of English football a little tougher before he was fired the following year.

He now acknowledges he made the move too early: ‘The Chelsea experience was too much too soon,’ he said.

‘I wasn’t flexible as a manager at that time. I was communicative, but I wasn’t flexible in my approach. At Tottenham I learnt to be different.

‘In professional football you have to live the day-to-day. The objective is the group performance, but every single individual requires a different response from a manager – you can’t be the same person to each player.

‘At Chelsea the group was more important, I stuck to my methods too much.’

Villas-Boas is currently out of work after leaving Russian side Zenit Saint Petersburg at the end of last season due to family reasons, revealing he would return home to Portugal.


– Both were given their breaks by Sir Bobby Robson, Mourinho as a translator while Villas-Boas was sent abroad for coaching experience.

– After a short stint as technical director of the British Virgin Islands national team, Villas-Boas joined Mourinho at Porto as an assistant.

– Villas-Boas then followed Mourinho to Chelsea in 2004, where they were successful before heading to Inter Milan together in 2008.

– As Villas-Boas wanted his own career, he missed out the Braga job but left Mourinho to take over as Academia boss in 2009.

– Villas-Boas followed in Mourinho’s footsteps by becoming Porto manager in 2010 and then moving to Chelsea in 2011.

– The two were opponents in the same league for the first time in 2013, with Villas-Boas at Tottenham and Mourinho back at Chelsea.