Mourinho hints at exit: ‘In England I am loved’

José Mourinho has hinted that he could be set for a return to England after seeing his Real Madrid side go out of the Champions League at the semi-final stage for the third consecutive season.

Mourinho hints at exit: 'In England I am loved'
Photo: Javier Soriano/AFP

Real very nearly staged a remarkable late comeback to progress to the final after goals from Karim Benzema and Sergio Ramos gave them a 2-0 win over Borussia Dortmund on the night, but the Germans' 4-1 victory in last week's first-leg saw them squeeze through 4-3 on aggregate.

And afterwards Mourinho refused to confirm that he will still be in charge of the Spanish champions next season.

"My future is not important, it is Real Madrid that are important," he said.

"I know that in England I am loved. I am loved by the fans and the media who are fair with me. They criticize me and give me credit when I deserve it.

"I know I am loved by the clubs, especially one. In Spain it is different because people hate me, many of whom are in this room, and it is difficult because I love the club and the president and we have made this team which is ready to achieve big things."

After a frantic opening 15 minutes by Madrid, in which they had three clear chances to score, Dortmund seemed to have drawn the sting from their opponents until the hosts' late onslaught, and Mourinho lamented not having scored during their early period of dominance.

"We started very strongly, with intensity, we pressured them and the circulation of the ball was excellent.

"The earlier you score a goal the better chance you have to come back. We missed important chances and that meant in the second half we had to risk everything.

"We were playing against a quicker team and had to adopt our way of playing which left a lot of space in behind. They had two great chances when (Robert) Lewandowski hit the bar and Diego (Lopez) made a great save but once we scored the people believed a little more.

"I'm proud of the way we kept going till the end."

However, Mourinho was less happy with the performance of English referee Howard Webb, who the Portuguese believes made a mistake in not sending off Mats Hummels for a deliberate handball in the second half.

"He was a man not a referee in this minute and he has to be a referee. He has to send off Hummels, it is not a penalty because it is outside the box but it is a sending off because Karim (Benzema) is clear through on goal."

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


Putellas becomes second Spanish footballer in history to win Ballon d’Or

Alexia Putellas of Barcelona and Spain won the women's Ballon d'Or prize on Monday, becoming only the second Spanish-born footballer in history to be considered the best in the world, and claiming a win for Spain after a 61-year wait.

FC Barcelona's Spanish midfielder Alexia Putellas poses after being awarded thewomen's Ballon d'Or award.
FC Barcelona's Spanish midfielder Alexia Putellas poses after being awarded thewomen's Ballon d'Or award. Photo: FRANCK FIFE / AFP

Putellas is the third winner of the prize, following in the footsteps of Ada Hegerberg, who won the inaugural women’s Ballon d’Or in 2018, and United States World Cup star Megan Rapinoe, winner in 2019.

Putellas captained Barcelona to victory in this year’s Champions League, scoring a penalty in the final as her side hammered Chelsea 4-0 in Gothenburg.

She also won a Spanish league and cup double with Barca, the club she joined as a teenager in 2012, and helped her country qualify for the upcoming Women’s Euro in England.

Her Barcelona and Spain teammate Jennifer Hermoso finished second in the voting, with Sam Kerr of Chelsea and Australia coming in third.

It completes an awards double for Putellas, who in August was named player of the year by European football’s governing body UEFA.

But it’s also a huge win for Spain as it’s the first time in 61 years that a Spanish footballer – male or female – is crowned the world’s best footballer of the year, and only the second time in history a Spaniard wins the Ballon d’Or. 

Former Spanish midfielder Luis Suárez (not the ex Liverpool and Barça player now at Atlético) was the only Spanish-born footballer to win the award in 1960 while at Inter Milan. Argentinian-born Alfredo Di Stefano, the Real Madrid star who took up Spanish citizenship, also won it in 1959.

Who is Alexia Putellas?

Alexia Putellas grew up dreaming of playing for Barcelona and after clinching the treble of league, cup and Champions League last season, her status as a women’s footballing icon was underlined as she claimed the Ballon d’Or on Monday.

Unlike the men’s side, Barca’s women swept the board last term with the 27-year-old, who wears “Alexia” on the back of her shirt, at the forefront, months before Lionel Messi’s emotional departure.

Attacker Putellas, who turns 28 in February, spent her childhood less than an hour’s car journey from the Camp Nou and she made her first trip to the ground from her hometown of Mollet del Valles, for the Barcelona derby on January 6, 2000.

Barcelona's Spanish midfielder Alexia Putellas (R) vies with VfL Wolfsburg's German defender Kathrin Hendrich
Putellas plays as a striker for Barça and Spain. GABRIEL BOUYS / POOL / AFP

Exactly 21 years later she became the first woman in the modern era to score in the stadium, against Espanyol. Her name was engraved in the club’s history from that day forward, but her story started much earlier.

She started playing the sport in school, against boys.

“My mum had enough of me coming home with bruises on my legs, so she signed me up at a club so that I stopped playing during break-time,” Putellas said last year.

So, with her parent’s insistence, she joined Sabadell before being signed by Barca’s academy.

“That’s where things got serious… But you couldn’t envisage, with all one’s power, to make a living from football,” she said.

After less than a year with “her” outfit, she moved across town to Espanyol and made her first-team debut in 2010 before losing to Barca in the final of the Copa de la Reina.

She then headed south for a season at Valencia-based club Levante before returning “home” in July 2012, signing for Barcelona just two months after her father’s death.

In her first term there she helped Barca win the league and cup double, winning the award for player of the match in the final of the latter competition.