One of the primary foundations of football is personal relationships – and the bond between coach and player is one that can help determine the future of either.
The game is littered with stories of fractious ties between those on the pitch and on the bench, but it’s the positive associations that truly deserve the attention.
Napoli winger Jose Callejon and Jose Mourinho enjoy this type of positive relationship to this day, despite the fact that they no longer work alongside each other.
It was Mourinho who brought Callejon back to Real Madrid in 2011, the Spaniard having left the Bernabeu for Espanyol three years prior after growing up in the club’s cantera.
With the Potuguese’s faith, Callejon went on to make 77 appearances for Los Blancos in two seasons, bagging 20 goals and eight assists as he picked up a La Liga winner’s medal.
And with that, Callejon left Madrid once more – this time alongside Mourinho. The former moved on to Napoli, while the latter returned to Stamford Bridge to manage Chelsea again.
At Napoli, the Spaniard has been a hit. Twenty goals in all competitions and a Coppa Italia title last season gave way to blistering form for Callejon this season.
Meanwhile, Mourinho was said to be keen for a reunion in the summer. Failing to win a trophy in his first year back at Chelsea, Mourinho’s attempts at signing Callejon were thwarted by Napoli.
Arsenal have since been linked with the ex-Real Madrid man, while a £24 million release clause in his Napoli contract has come to light as he continues to take Serie A by storm.
Callejon has now reflected on his time under Mourinho, sharing that the Chelsea boss was quick to congratulate him after his first call-up to the Spanish national side arrived.
“There was a nice relationship with him, we were on the same page,” Callejon told El Pais.
“He transmitted a winning mentality – he put a lot of trust in me. He was among the first ones to congratulate me for the call-up.”
The 27-year-old looks like staying at the San Paolo for the time being, with eight goals under his belt through 11 Serie A encounters this campaign.
Callejon went on to attribute his uptick in goals in southern Italy to ex-Liverpool and Chelsea boss Rafael Benitez – now of course in charge of the Partenopei.
“I’ve improved a lot in scoring. Rafa always told me to be more selfish in front of goal and the credit goes to that.
“Italian football is more defensive and less open than Spanish football. It’s different at Napoli. Benitez is not like that, he likes to have possession and attack.”