During the late 1990s, a young Jose Mourinho benefitted from an elite-level internship when he assisted Bobby Robson and then Louis van Gaal, who succeeded the Englishman from his managerial post at Barcelona.
The Chelsea man described the experience as "fantastic" and said that he will always remember the Dutchman for what he did and how he shaped his own career path.
"I was very, very young and to be assisting people of their dimension – with Bobby Robson too - was fantastic. Louis was important in my career and I’m always grateful. I never forget people that supported me in my career, and Louis was one of them."
Much has been made about how the two managers will fare now that they are no longer assisting each other but competing for the same domestic titles, to which the Portuguese responded by remarking that they have already done battle on the grandest stage of all - when Mourinho's Internazionale squared off versus van Gaal's Bayern Munich.
“You know the first time we played against each other? Champions League final!"
He continued: “We worked together, then we went our separate professional ways. He left Barcelona to be Holland coach for the first time, and when he left to go to Holland I left to be coach for the first time in Benfica and we didn’t see each other for many years – just lots of contact on the phone.
"A few years later we met each other in the Champions League final: Inter Milan against Bayern Munich. This is part of life.
“So when in a couple of months I go to Old Trafford to play Manchester United, I think before the game: ‘Good fun.’ During the game we don’t even think about who is in the other dugout. And after the game, I don’t say ‘good fun’ because one of us will be not happy. But there will always be a fantastic relation between us. I like him a lot and I know he likes me a lot, too.”
Inter beat Bayern by a 2-0 score with goals coming from crafty veteran Diego Milito.