The Mourinho-Guardiola rivalry never ends, neither does it get boring even for a second, but 20 years ago they were friends, good friends, at least from what they fed the cameras.

Pep Guardiola (L) then playing for Barcelona and Jose Mourinho who was the club’s assistant coach. PHOTO/COURTESY

So it continues even after Robson leaves, with Mourinho staying on under Louis van Gaal until 2000. When celebrating one title, Mourinho shouts: “Today and forever, Barça in my heart!”

Bobby Robson (R) and Jose Mourinho. PHOTO/COURTESY


Yes, they used to be friends.


In 1996, Jose Mourinho arrives at Barcelona as the translator (and general factotum) of Bobby Robson, tasked with providing a bridge between his boss and the squad. He soon identifies Guardiola as one of the leaders worth knowing. “They were quite friendly,” Robson said. Guardiola: “It was a working relationship.”

Jose Mourinho (second right) pictured taking a walk with some Barcelona players among them Pep Guardiola (far right). PHOTO/COURTESY

When and how did this end? And why? Just why?

The pair are impressed, yet wary of the conflict Mourinho might create. They opt for Guardiola, whose only achievement is to have led Barça B to promotion from the fourth division. That rejection has, by many, been portrayed as the backdrop for Mourinho’s resentment of the club.

Guardiola’s only achievement was achieving promotion for Barcelona to the fourth division. This squad later came to be a great success under Guardiola as Barcelona headcoach giving rise to players like Iniesta, Xavi, Pedro, Messi, Busquets, Pique among others. PHOTO/COURTESY


It’s a picture that shows a different time and frankly, one that people nowadays might find hard to imagine; Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho, sat side-by-side as friends, wearing crests of the same club.

Guardiola sitting side by side with Mourinho. One a coach, the other a player. PHOTO/COURTESY

It was April 16, 2000, that such a snap was taken, 20 years ago. Guardiola, 29, was approaching the end of his penultimate season at Barcelona, where he’d won six league titles and the European Cup in 1992.

Pep Guardiola during his playing days at Barcelona where he enjoyed success as a player. PHOTO/COURTESY

Mourinho was 37 and approaching the end of his time at Barca as part of Louis van Gaal’s coaching setup. Less than six months later he would be his own man at Benfica, embarking on the start of a managerial career that would see a great rivalry emerge with old friend Guardiola.

A throwback photo of Luis Van Gaal as Barcelona’s head coach, Jose Mourinho as an assistant and Pep Guardiola as a player. PHOTO/COURTESY

But in April 2000, they were friends.

‘We did talk about things when we both had doubts, and we would exchange ideas, but I don’t remember it as something which defined our relationship,’ Guardiola once said of Mourinho.

‘He was (Bobby) Robson’s assistant (before Van Gaal took over in 1997) and I was a player.’

Pep Guardiola says he and Mourinho often talked and exchanged ideas. PHOTO/COURTESY

Mourinho returned to Portugal to take charge of Benfica but months into the role, Robson approached him with the offer to become his assistant at Newcastle.

‘He knew my ambition wouldn’t allow me to accept an assistant coach role,’ Mourinho said in his biography. ‘He told me it would only be for a year, two tops, and that at the end of that time I would be head coach and club manager.

In his biography, Jose Mourinho says his ambition could not allow him to be Robson’s assistant at Newcastle. PHOTO/COURTESY

‘But he had forgotten that I had worked with him for many years and so I knew him well. It is unthinkable to picture him as a manager, watching from the stands.’

But Mourinho’s time at Benfica lasted a matter of months. He resigned in December 2000 after a new club president was elected and, after stating he wanted to hire an ex-player as coach, refused to offer Mourinho a new contract following a 3-0 win over Sporting Lisbon.

Mourinho as Benfica coach which lasted just months tendering his resignation in December 2000. PHOTO/COURTESY

His next chance was at Union de Leira in July 2001, where his success caught the eye of Porto and he became head coach there in January 2002.

In 2003, Mourinho steered Porto to the league title by 11 points over former club Benfica, while also lifting the UEFA Cup after beating Celtic in the final.

But it was the following season where Mourinho truly announced himself onto the global stage, when Porto won the Champions League and eliminated Sir Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United on the way. Victory at Old Trafford prompted his iconic touchline dash after Costinha’s 89th minute away goal.

Mourinho led FC Porto to Champions League success in 2004, knocking out Sir Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United in the process. PHOTO/COURTESY

Of course, Chelsea came next and Mourinho introduced himself as ‘The Special One’ at his opening press conference. Premier League glory duly followed, conceding just 15 goals in the process, and he successfully defended it the following season.

It was Premier League glory for ‘The Special One’ after landing in England as Chelsea head coach.

But in 2007, he exited the club on September 20 after a stuttering start to the Champions League and a breakdown in his relationship with owner Roman Abramovich.

Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich (R) sacked Jose Mourinho (L) in September 2007 after a poor start to the Champions League. PHOTO/COURTESY

By this point, Guardiola had made his first steps as a manager. He retired from playing in June 2007 and returned to Barcelona, where he had left in 2001, as coach of the B team.

So successful was his young Barcelona side that he was there only a season before replacing Frank Rijkaard as manager of the senior team in 2008 and ushering in an era of unprecedented success.

Spearheaded on the pitch by Lionel Messi, Guardiola led Barcelona to three LaLiga titles, two Champions League victories and two Copa del Reys. He first crossed paths with Mourinho in 2009, when the Portuguese was at the helm of Inter Milan.

Barcelona ran out 2-0 winners in the semi final of the Champions League that year but the following season, Inter beat them in the group stage and again in the semi-final as the Italian giants recorded a famous treble under Mourinho.

Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona knocked out Jose Mourinho’s Inter Milan before hitting Manchester United 2-0 in the final. PHOTO/COURTESY

Inter lost the second leg against Barcelona 1-0 but advanced to the final 3-2 on aggregate, leaving Mourinho to hail his ‘most beautiful defeat’.

His most beautiful defeat, ‘The Special One’ said after losing 1-0 to Barcelona at Camp Nou but proceeding to the final on a 3-2 aggregate knocking out Guardiola’s and his troops. PHOTO/COURTESY

But seven months later, with Mourinho now at the helm of Real Madrid, Guardiola exacted a devastating revenge. Barcelona ran out 5-0 winners at the Nou Camp with Messi as a false nine.

It was a nightmare welcome El Classico for Jose Mourinho. Guardiola hit five past him with no reply. PHOTO/COURTESY

Then, in 2011, with both sides reaching the Copa del Rey final while being drawn together in the Champions League, came four Clasicos in 18 days. The first was the most timid affair, a 1-1 draw in LaLiga, with Real then winning the Copa del Rey with a stoppage time header from Ronaldo. A terse Champions League semi-final saw Barcelona win 3-1 across two legs.

The most infamous clash between the two happened at the start of the 2011-12 season, during the Spanish Super Cup where the pair exchanged a cold handshake without eye contact. A brawl was sparked by a savage Marcelo tackle on Cesc Fabregas that ended with Mourinho poking Barcelona assistant manager Tito Vilanova in the eye.

Mourinho poked Guardiola’s assistant, Tito Vilanova into the eye as emotions ran high in another display of the duo’s rivalry. PHOTO/COURTESY

That was in August 2011 and by April 2012, the pair had faced off for the final time as managers of Spain’s super clubs. Mourinho won the last duel 2-1 at the Nou Camp to end Barcelona’s 55-game unbeaten home run in what was only his third win over Guardiola.

They would meet once in the next four years – in the 2013 UEFA Super Cup final between Bayern Munich and Chelsea, where both parties had taken over that summer. Bayern won 10-9 on penalties.

Guardiola’s Bayern hit Mourinho’s Chelsea 10-9 on post match penalties to win the 2013 UEFA Super Cup. PHOTO/COURTESY

The next time they met, Mourinho led Manchester United and Guardiola was at the helm of Manchester City.

They locked horns on six different occasions, Guardiola winning three, Mourinho two and one draw before the Portuguese was sacked in December 2019.

Since he has been at Tottenham, they have faced off just once and it was Spurs who were successful with a 2-0 victory. And while they cannot meet again this season, should it resume following the coronavirus pandemic, the rivalry will rumble on into 2020-21.

The entertaining yet rival duo of Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho sharing a rare light moment. PHOTO/COURTESY

Way back in April 2000, when they were sat side-by-side at Barcelona, who would have thought that their rivalry would become one of the fiercest of the century? There seems to be plenty more installments to follow.

Come to think of it, imagine of Mourinho could have been incharge of Tottenham Hotspurs when they dramatically knocked out Pep’s City from the UEFA Champions League last season? The jibes? The digs? The sarcasm, the chest thumping? Ooh we missed a lot.

Mourinho could have had the largest bottle of wine of the night and the longest press conferences to chest thump. Lucky you, it was the calm Mauricio Pochettino. PHOTO/COURTESY

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