at the Union Buildings in Pretoria
London - Intensely irritating to some, hugely entertaining to others, the outspoken and colourful Jose Mourinho has proven time and again that success is never far from his golden touch.
From a modest playing career and humble beginnings in management, Mourinho, 50, has become one of the most sought-after signings by club presidents eager for the Portuguese to wave his magic wand and conjure a succession of silverware.
His managerial record stands the closest scrutiny - a Champions League winner with two clubs and league titles in Portugal, England, Italy and Spain.
He guided Porto to league and European glory, moulded Chelsea into English champions and Inter Milan into league and European winners.
At Real, who on Monday announced that Mourinho would leave at the end of a trophyless season in a mutual parting, he ended three years of Barcelona dominance by winning the La Liga title last season. But he fell short in his stated desire to win a third personal Champions League trophy and the magical 10th that Real so desperately desired.
Success on the pitch has earned the adulation of fans, the respect of players and a love-hate relationship with club presidents.
But underpinning Mourinho's time in managerial hotseats have been clashes with authority, tetchy relationships with rival managers and a disdain for match officials.
Accused by rivals of being arrogant, Mourinho is never one to keep an opinion to himself.
Arriving at Chelsea in 2004 to declare “please don't call me arrogant but I'm European champion and I think I'm a special one,” the never-shy Mourinho has worn his heart on his sleeve.
There is no doubt that he possesses a spark that others lack. It is often said that players will “run through walls” for a popular manager and Mourinho has no bigger admirer than Chelsea midfielder Frank Lampard.
“It's a presence and an aura and a way with people. He galvanises people,” Chelsea's record goalscorer told Talksport recently in hailing the Portuguese's tactical nous and man-management.
“His own self-confidence reflects back on his teams. He did that to me personally. Mourinho was the best, for me he was. He brought my confidence to a level it had never been.”
Mourinho has often stated that English football was his passion and that he would find his way back there. It would now appear that he is on his way back for a second stint at Stamford Bridge having dropped heavy hints.
“I know I am loved by some clubs, especially one,” he said last month.
Adored by Chelsea fans during his three full seasons, if he does head back to London Mourinho will work again under the man who brought his reign to an end.
Russian billionaire and Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich fired Mourinho in 2007 when their relationship had reportedly broken down completely.
Chelsea's long-serving captain John Terry has said the pair “now get on very well”, a key sign that Abramovich could soon be again rolling out the welcome mat.
Mourinho has never been far from controversial moments.
In 2005, he was fined and banned for accusing Swedish referee Anders Frisk and Barcelona manager Frank Rijkaard of meeting at halftime during the first leg of their Champions League last-16 match against Chelsea.
Frisk sent off Didier Drogba in that game and two weeks later the referee announced his retirement because of threats made to his family.
Banned from the touchline and fined several times during his Inter stint, Mourinho often complained that referees were against his team.
There was no hiding his rancour in 2010 when he landed in hot water again for making a handcuff gesture to photographers and television cameras to make the point that his side had been victimised after they had two players sent off in a Serie A match with Sampdoria.
Mourinho also possesses a gift for the eccentric.
After Chelsea had won their second consecutive Premier League title in 2006, Mourinho flung his winners' medal and blazer into the Stamford Bridge crowd. Handed a second medal minutes later, he also launched it into the fans before later saying “I have one from last season”.
His departure from Real comes as a far cry from the way he left Inter after guiding the Italians to an unprecedented treble in 2010, culminating in their first European Cup triumph in 45 years.
“My work here is done, I have made history with this club,” Mourinho said after Inter's 2-0 Champions League final victory over Bayern Munich. “I will find motivations in another big club. Playing against Barcelona in Spain? That would be a big challenge.”
Last year Mourinho guided Real to their first La Liga title for four years but was unable to work his magic again in the Champions League with Real beaten in the semi-finals in the last three seasons - an improvement on their previous run of last-16 exits but not enough.
With Chelsea mounting a feeble defence of their Champions League crown won last year under Roberto Di Matteo, Mourinho may just have unfinished business on his mind. – Reuters