How Damien Duff was given special treatment by Jose Mourinho after Barcelona defeat

Damien Duff was on Jose Mourinho’s good side.

Damien Duff was a special player, so much so that even Jose Mourinho spared the Dubliner the type of tongue-lashings that he’s been known to hand out over his career.

That’s according to Joe Cole, a former Chelsea teammate of Duff’s, when both players were part of Mourinho’s star-studded Stamford Bridge dressing room.

Joe Cole and Damien Duff spared.

Mourinho changed the face of English football when he arrived from Porto in 2004, taking on managerial veterans such as Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger by delivering back-to-back Premier League titles in the mid-2000s.

Still, the team had some off days and one such moment arrived at the Nou Camp against Barcelona in 2005. The Blues let a 1-0 lead slip to eventually lose 2-1, albeit with 10 men after Didier Drogba’s red card.

Cole has been speaking on The Greatest Game with Jamie Carragher podcast about how the Portuguese manager was not happy with his charges after the defeat, save for himself and fellow winger Duff.

“Jose Mourinho went through the players one by one.”

“He had us in after we got beaten at the Nou Camp,” Cole says. “He went through the players one by one: ‘You think you’re a top player?’ You froze at the Nou Camp. You showed no balls.’

“He absolutely crucified everyone. He’s coming to me and I was thinking ‘he could come up and give me a left hook here.’ But he comes to me and Duffer and went ‘you two – okay.’ Phew, thank God for that!”

Whatever Mourinho said seemed to work however, as Chelsea went onto win the second leg 4-2 at Stamford Bridge, with Duff among the goals as Mourinho’s side went through 5-4 on aggregate.

That first leg defeat at the Nou Camp was also famous for instigating the immediate retirement of referee Anders Frisk, who was called an “enemy of football” by Mourinho before receiving death threats over his home phone.

Mourinho was known, and to a large extent still is, for those kind of tricks but in some ways it’s sad to see that he appears to have lost the motivational powers of his early managerial career.

That Chelsea side would have ran through walls for their manager and at the heart of it all, an Irishman was apparently one of his favourites.

(this article was originally published on July 21st 2021)

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