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Mourinho already a coaching great at 50

With José Mourinho turning 50 on Saturday as perhaps Europe's most highly rated coach, UEFA.com learns his best years may be ahead if his peers are anything to go by.

The great club coaches of the modern era at 50 ©AFP/Getty Images

With José Mourinho celebrating his 50th birthday on Saturday, he has already achieved more success than most coaches manage in a lifetime, notably as one of just six to have won the UEFA Champions League twice since its inception in 1992/93.

The 'Special One' can also boast seven domestic titles, four domestic cups and a UEFA Cup – a massive haul made even more spectacular by the fact the Portuguese tactician never played professional football. Interestingly, the only coach to have triumphed more than twice in Europe's top club competition – Liverpool FC's Bob Paisley – had not even led a club in his own right until he was 55.

However, by surveying what those coaches with two UEFA Champions League titles attained during their first half-centuries, UEFA.com learns that the great trainers of the modern age developed at different speeds.

José Mourinho
UEFA Champions League: 2
UEFA Cup Winners' Cup: 0
UEFA Cup: 1
UEFA Super Cup: 0
League title: 7
Domestic cup: 4

It is difficult to picture Europe's football landscape without him, but it is only 11 years since a typically bullish Mourinho announced his arrival in the big time at FC Porto by promising the side would be champions the following year. He did not disappoint; he rarely does. Indeed, he also lifted the UEFA Cup in his first full season with the Dragons, eclipsing that 12 months later when he oversaw UEFA Champions League glory. He moved to Chelsea FC, proclamed himself "the special one" and lived up to that, guiding them to their first English championship in 50 years.

In 2008 it was on to FC Internazionale Milano, where he spoke Italian in his first press conference having "learned it in three weeks". He was soon up to speed on the pitch as well, steering the Nerazzurri to back-to-back titles and, in 2010, the UEFA Champions League, before taking the reins at Real Madrid CF. Could he end FC Barcelona's hegemony? Could he ever. In his second campaign, his team broke all records en route to the Liga title. What next?

Ottmar Hitzfeld
UEFA Champions League: 1
UEFA Cup Winners' Cup: 0
UEFA Cup: 0
UEFA Super Cup: 0
League title: 4 (plus two as player)
Domestic cup: 3 (plus one as player)

Hitzfeld was one of – if not the – most established coaches in Germany by the time he reached his half-century. Having spent the better part of his playing days in Switzerland, where he landed two league titles and a national cup with FC Basel 1893, it was fitting that he lifted his first trophy as a coach in the same country. Starting at second-tier SC Zug in 1983, he immediately won promotion yet then left for rivals FC Aarau, where he collected the Swiss Cup in his debut season.

From 1988 to 1991 he claimed five pieces of domestic silverware with Grasshopper-Club, before taking over struggling Borussia Dortmund in 1991. Dortmund lost the 1993 UEFA Cup final but Hitzfeld directed them to a UEFA Champions League triumph against the Bianconeri in 1997. After a short stint as BVB sporting director, Hitzfeld joined FC Bayern München in 1998 and won the league in his first term – aged 50. Now Switzerland's coach, with a total of seven Bundesliga championships, Hitzfeld's motto is: "Success is not everything, but everything is nothing without success."

Sir Alex Ferguson
UEFA Champions League: 0
European Cup Winners' Cup: 2
UEFA Cup: 0
UEFA Super Cup: 1
League title: 5
Domestic cup: 1

When he turned 50 in December 1991, Alex Ferguson was not yet a 'Sir' and had still to conquer the English game. He had achieved a phenomenal amount in Scotland before arriving at Manchester United FC in November 1986, aged 45 – witness a second-division title with Saint Mirren FC and three national ones with Aberdeen FC, whom he also inspired to glory in the 1982/83 European Cup Winners' Cup. England, however, was a tougher nut to crack, and in December 1989 he looked close to being dismissed: "Three years of excuses and it's still crap... ta-ra Fergie" read a banner displayed at Old Trafford.

Winning the FA Cup in 1989/90 helped ease concerns, and in the 1990/91 Cup Winners' Cup final two Mark Hughes goals earned United a 2-1 victory against Barcelona. The following season's league campaign was once more to end in disappointment, though, and Sir Alex had to wait until he was 51 to pick up the first of his 12 Premier League titles. UEFA Champions League success, meanwhile, did not come until he was 57.

Carlo Ancelotti
UEFA Champions League: 2 (plus two European Champion Clubs' Cups as player)
UEFA Cup Winners' Cup: 0
UEFA Cup: 0
UEFA Super Cup: 2 (plus two as player)
League title: 1 (plus three as player)
Domestic cup: 1 (plus four as player)

Ancelotti celebrated his 50th birthday in June 2009 a few days after ending his successful spell at AC Milan to sign for Chelsea. He had presided over the Rossoneri's UEFA Champions League triumph of 2003, beating his former side Juventus on penalties in the final, before avenging a painful 2005 defeat by Liverpool FC in the 2007 decider. "We had eight wonderful years together," he said when leaving Milan. "It's not a sad day, just a strange one. Usually when a coach and a club go their separate ways there is conflict, but not in our case. My special relationship with Milan will never change."

The ex-Italy midfielder helped Chelsea do the double during his first term in London and he is now trying to win a league title in a third country with Paris Saint-Germain FC. He went there in December 2011, brought in by sporting director Leonardo, the man who had replaced him as Milan boss in 2009.

Vicente del Bosque
UEFA Champions League: 2
UEFA Cup Winners' Cup: 0
UEFA Cup: 0
UEFA Super Cup: 1
League title: 2 (five as player)
Domestic cup: 0 (four as player)

Prior to leading Real Madrid to an eighth European Cup success in his 50th year, 'The Quiet Man' – as Del Bosque is known – had already made his name as an attack-minded midfielder of some repute with the club he joined as a 17-year-old. Del Bosque enjoyed a fruitful career with the Merengues, scoring 27 goals in 335 games while collecting five Liga titles and four Copas del Rey.

As Madrid's youth-team coach, Del Bosque later became famed as something of an 'apagafuegos,' or one who puts out fires, when briefly taking over senior-team duties in 1994 and 1996. He grasped his chance when offered the job full-time soon afterwards, however, and led the side to UEFA Champions League final glory against fellow Liga team Valencia CF in Paris in 2000. Subsequent honours with Madrid have since been overshadowed by his unprecedented exploits at the Spain helm.

Josep Guardiola
UEFA Champions League: 2 (plus one European Cup as player)
UEFA Cup Winners' Cup: 0 (one as player)
UEFA Cup: 0
UEFA Super Cup: 2 (plus two as player)
League title: 3 (plus six as player)
Domestic cup: 2 (plus two as player)

Like Mourinho, the former Barcelona ball boy has acquired two UEFA Champions League crowns as a coach before his 50th birthday. Unlike his erstwhile rival from Real Madrid, however, Guardiola has another eight years to win a third before beginning his sixth decade.

As a defensive midfielder, 'Pep' first lifted the European Cup as a player with Barça in 1991/92, helping the Blaugrana win six domestic titles before hanging up his boots to take over the club's B team. Handed a shock promotion to senior duties in 2008, replacing Frank Rijkaard, the hierarchy's faith was repaid tenfold when he guided Barcelona to three successive league championships, two UEFA Champions Leagues, a UEFA Super Cup, the FIFA World Club Cup and a Copa del Rey. After taking a year out from the game, he will see if he can work similar wonders at Bayern München when he assumes control in the summer. "Pep is already learning German," said Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge.

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