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.
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.
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 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.
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 semifinals 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.
From the horse’s mouth
-As Porto coach: "The only thing that I want to say is that we are the best ones and in normal conditions we are more than the best ones. In normal conditions we will be champions. In abnormal conditions we also will be champions."
- After being appointed at Chelsea: "Please don't call me arrogant, but I'm European champion and I think I'm a special one."
-Reflection on his move from Porto to Chelsea: "If I had wanted to be protected in a quiet job, I could have stayed at Porto. I would have been second, after God, in the eyes of the fans even if I had never won another thing."
-Pressure of the Premier League title race in 2006: "For me, pressure is bird flu. I'm feeling a lot of pressure with the swan in Scotland. It's not fun and I'm more scared of it than football."
- An injury crisis at Chelsea: "It is like having a blanket that is too small for the bed. You pull the blanket up to keep your chest warm and your feet stick out. I cannot buy a bigger blanket because the supermarket is closed. But I am content because the blanket is cashmere. It is no ordinary blanket."
- Feeling the financial pinch towards the end of his time at Chelsea: "The style of how we play is very important. But it is omelettes and eggs. No eggs -- no omelettes. It depends on the quality of the eggs. In the supermarket you have class one, two or class three eggs and some are more expensive than others and some give you better omelettes. So when the class one eggs are in Waitrose and you cannot go there, you have a problem."
-Contemplating a film of his life: "If they made a film of my life, I think they should get George Clooney to play me. He's a fantastic actor and my wife thinks he would be ideal."
- After winning La Liga with Real with record points total: "Like me or not, I am the only one who won the world's three most important leagues. So maybe instead of the 'Special One', people should start calling me the 'Only One'."
- Before Champions League semifinals with Barcelona in 2011: "One day he (Einstein) said that the only mechanical force more powerful than steam, electricity and atomic energy is will. That Alberto bloke was not stupid. With will you can achieve things."