Jose Mourinho has explained the thinking behind his famous ‘zeru tituli’ phrase and also defended Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
Mourinho spent two seasons in Italy as Coach of Inter, winning two League titles, a Coppa Italia, a Supercoppa Italiana and the Champions League. One particular Press conference of his spawned the catchphrase ‘zeru tituli’ in reference to his suggestion that his rivals would win zero honours.
In a lengthy interview published in today’s Corriere della Sera, Mourinho, now at Real Madrid, reflected on the use of that phrase.
“We were at a crucial stage of the season, we could win it all or nothing,” he remembered.
“Roma, Juventus and Milan followed us in the League. We had to play against Roma in the Coppa Italia final and in the Champions League we were in the quarter-finals, so it was still far from won.
“I needed to put some pressure on others and make them understand that they could win zero titles.
“A couple of days after that Press conference I arrived at Appiano Gentile [Inter’s training ground] and at the gate I see a group of boys selling t-shirts - they ran towards me and gave me three t-shirts through my car window.
“‘Mister, mister, thanks,’ [they say]. ‘Because of what?’ They showed me the shirt with a picture of handcuffs and written on it ‘zeru tituli’ and they say, ‘We’re selling a lot.’ ‘I’m glad,’ I responded.”
The Coach also took questions on his relationship with Zlatan Ibrahimovic and took time to defend him against criticism of his performances in the Champions League.
“Ibra is a great player and an amazing guy who you can love, who has a great life outside of football with his family. He lives for his family, for football, he is a winner.
“I’m sorry that sometimes people forget what this guy has done. He has won eight championships in a row now, no-one should forget that. I say this - there is still time for him to fulfil his dreams in the Champions League, since it is the only trophy that he lacks.”
Mourinho was also asked about his future, having been linked with returns in the summer to both Inter and another former club Chelsea.
“This is a topic on which there is nothing to say. I have another two years on my contract with Real Madrid and I have never said that I would not be staying in Madrid.”