From PRNewswire/Web Summit

  • Portuguese Prime Minister António Costa presented Tottenham Hotspur manager José Mourinho with the Web Summit Innovation in Sport award – “the international mark of excellence in the sports business community”
  • Mourinho reflected on being one of the first non-players to make it as an elite football manager – “Honestly I think it’s quite a legacy that I leave behind.”
  • Mourinho joined European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen, Facebook CTO Mike Schroepfer and tennis star Serena Williams at 100,000-attendee online conference Web Summit.

Tottenham Hotspur manager José Mourinho today won the Web Summit Innovation in Sport award. Portuguese Prime Minister António Costa presented Mourinho with the award at the 100,000-attendee Web Summit – the largest tech conference in the world.

Accepting the award, which last year went to Brazilian footballer Ronaldo Luís Nazário de Lima, Mourinho reflected on the beginning of his career during a time when non-players found it difficult to be accepted as elite managers.

“It was a period completely different than today. Today, people believe in different ways to become a football manager. There are different ways to arrive there. Twenty or 30 years ago, the biggest barrier was the fact [that] people were totally focused on former players, and forgetting the evolution of [our] times: people studying, people following an academic career and mixing an academic career with some footballing experience, even if not at the top level as a player.

“That was the biggest barrier – to break that difficult wall of people believing in a different profile. Honestly, I think it’s quite a legacy that I leave behind.

“It’s the fact that, today, any kid that loves football and is not talented enough to become a top football player, any student that decides to go another direction and goes to sport science, to football methodology and follows an academic career in the search of knowledge – of scientific knowledge – can be as good or even better than others. That was basically the barrier that I had, and nowadays people don’t have it anymore,” said Mourinho.

Mourinho said he sees no end in sight for his career, and that he still loves the game as much as ever: “I feel exactly the same passion, the same desire to learn every day, so it’s just a pleasure. My white hair, for sure, has nothing to do with stress or a stressful job,” he said, going on to say he sees himself managing for at least another decade:

“I consider myself a very humble person, in that I always try to learn and I always try to be better. This is the kind of job where experience can only make us better. I really believe that today I’m much better than I was 10 years ago, 20 years ago.

“So 20 years [so far is] a long career, but [I’m] 57 years old – very young in relation to my job – so I wouldn’t be surprised if I have 10, 15 years ahead of me,” he said.

Mourinho spoke both of his pride at seeing Web Summit hosted in Portugal, his home, and of receiving an award from Prime Minister António Costa.

“I used to be very proud only with the fact that such an amazing event like Web Summit is hosted in my home country. As a Portuguese, especially a Portuguese living abroad, I used to be very, very proud of it. Now it’s much more than that. Now it’s to get an award from our prime minister. Thank you so much, Mr Prime Minister, and thank you so much, Web Summit, for giving me this award that I obviously accept, with being very honoured and very flattered,” he said.

Portuguese Prime Minister António Costa, presenting the award to his compatriot, said the award “is the international mark of excellence in the sports business community. It recognises people and organisations that have successfully incorporated technology in the pursuit of excellence”.

Prime Minister Costa paid tribute to “the football-loving boy from Setúbal who went on to become one of the most innovative and accomplished managers in the history of the beautiful game,” saying:

“José Mourinho has won the UEFA Champions League twice. He has won eight major domestic leagues, including one of the most fiercely contested in world football, the Premier League. His breakthrough success with Porto remains one of the most outstanding achievements in the football of this era.

“It could be said that Jose Mourinho’s greatest gift to the game is not the trophies and success he brought to clubs around Europe, but it was the belief and inspiration he gave to a generation of Portuguese children – the belief that you can achieve anything in life through hard work, dedication and faith in your own abilities. I extend my sincere congratulations to the winner of the 2020 Web Summit Innovation in Sport award, José Mourinho. You are really the Special One.”

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