Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho has revealed that his wife, Matilde, was responsible for his decision to turn down the role of England head coach in December 2007.
Mourinho, who is in his second spell at Stamford Bridge, claims that he was considering an approach by the Football Association to succeed the sacked Steve McClaren, only for his wife’s reservations to deter him.
“It was the right decision. My wife was right. She told me not to take it,” Mourinho told reporters in London.
“We are not speaking about the job today. We are talking about seven years ago, and I cannot wait two years for a big competition.
“I cannot be spending two years playing against Kazakhstan and San Marino,” added Mourinho, who had left Chelsea by mutual consent in September 2007.
The FA ultimately appointed Italian Fabio Capello, who remained in the role until 2012, while Mourinho went on to join Inter Milan.
Mourinho, who also revealed that the terms of his severance deal with Chelsea prevented him from joining another English club, said that his former players had encouraged him to take up the role.
“(Frank) Lampard, (John) Terry, (Ashley) Cole, everybody was saying: ‘Come, come, come, everybody from other clubs wants you to do it,'” the 51-year-old said.
‘The guys from Manchester United and Liverpool call us and say to us: ‘Tell your boss to come, they want you to take it.”
“I had lots of positive things to push me, and that’s why I was so close. But my wife was right.
“It was not the job for me seven years ago, it’s not the job for me now, and I don’t think it will be the job for me in seven years’ time. Maybe in 15 years from now, but not seven.”
Asked how close he had come to becoming England manager, Mourinho held an imaginary pen six inches above an imaginary contract and replied: “This close.”
– ‘Rooney’s World Cup’ –
It is now 48 years since England last won a major tournament — the 1966 World Cup — and Mourinho claims that a national inability to unanimously rally behind the team may be a factor.
“In every country I know, especially my own country — and Portugal is a small country — people live football in a very emotional way,” said Mourinho, who is working as an analyst for Yahoo! during the World Cup.
“Normally, the press is critical until the moment the team is selected because until that time everybody has an opinion. You prefer (Jordan) Henderson, (Steven) Gerrard or Lampard. It’s the same in every country.
“The moment the team is chosen and the competition is next door, in one week, everybody is together. No more critics. Everyone is to support. Even if you don’t agree because, for a month, the team is a team.
“I’m not so sure with the mentality in this country (England), people are ready to go in this direction.”
Ahead of England’s opening World Cup game against Italy on Saturday, striker Wayne Rooney’s form has become the subject of intense scrutiny.
Rooney’s former Manchester United team-mate Paul Scholes has suggested that the 28-year-old may already be past his peak and there have even been calls for him to be dropped, but Mourinho remains a fan.
“I prefer to say that Wayne is right when he says this is his World Cup,” said the Portuguese, who twice tried to sign Rooney last year.
“He’s not a kid anymore and he’s not an old player at the end of his career. He is in the best age.
“He also has a role as leader in the team, a little bit similar to the role he had at United this season.
“I think he is ready to cope with this pressure. Maybe the fact that the season was not good in the club can also play a positive role. I have faith in him that he can do it.”