Inter coach Jose Mourinho said he was delighted after his side was drawn against reigning champions Manchester United in the Champions League second round.
Mourinho locked horns with United boss Sir Alex Ferguson during his time at Chelsea, but also in the year he guided Porto to the Champions League crown, knocking out United in the second round.
And after Inter’s struggles to qualify from a seemingly easy group that included Panathinaikos, Werder Bremen and Anorthosis Famagusta — Inter finished second behind the Greeks, winning only twice, drawing two and losing their last two matches — Mourinho had said he wanted to draw one of Europe’s big guns in the knock-out stages to present a challenge to his players that would motivate them.
“I’m delighted. I wanted the best and we’ve got the champions of Europe, who maybe in two days time will also become the champions of the world,” Mourinho said. “It is a team that has the Ballon d’Or winner [Cristiano Ronaldo], a great manager in Alex Ferguson and a stadium with a fantastic atmosphere. I’ve got great memories of Manchester [United], against whom I had many important firsts. I’ve got a good record against Alex Ferguson, but it’s not my record, it’s that of Chelsea and with Porto we played two incredible matches against them.”
As well as Inter’s clash against United, the two other Italian teams left in the competition also drew English sides, with Mourinho’s former employers coming up against Juventus and AS Roma scheduled to face Arsenal.
And Mourinho could not resist a dig at former foe and Arsenal coach Arsene Wenger, with whom he clashed several times in England.
“They are three clashes that are evenly balanced, with maybe Roma the slight favorites against Arsenal, who are not Manchester or Chelsea,” he said. “I hope the Italians win, but I don’t feel like supporting anyone against Chelsea, who are a part of me.”
In 2004 Mourinho, then a little known coach outside of Portugal, took his Porto team to Old Trafford after a surprise 2-1 win in Portugal.
United took the lead through Paul Scholes on 32 minutes, but Costinho pounced on a late fumble by United goalkeeper Tim Howard to slot home the equalizer and send Porto through 3-2 on aggregate.
That prompted Mourinho to dance along the Old Trafford touchline and two months later Porto beat Monaco 3-0 in the final, earning Mourinho his move to Chelsea.