Jose Mourinho says the World Cup in Russia has shown that players aren’t “mercenaries” who only care about money, and that they love the game and the pride of playing for their country.
Mourinho was speaking to RT in his role as a World Cup pundit, and gave his thoughts on what his abiding memories would be on the tournament in Russia.
He said in particular that it had gone some way to dispelling the notion that players are merely all about money.
“I don’t say happy, but I would say pleased, because… and I tell you, when sometimes people think that football players they play for money, money is the main thing, sometimes people are too critical with them,” the Manchester United boss said.
“Sometimes people forget how much they love football, how much they love what they do, and how much pride they have to play for their countries, and I think that every player showed, every team showed, the pain after defeat, the happiness after victory, it was fantastic for the image of the players.”
He said the social aspect of the World Cup had also been “phenomenal” in bringing people from around the world together.
“The [social impact of] World Cup was phenomenal, you felt it in Russia, but I felt it in Portugal also, I felt it in England, I felt it also even on holiday in the Bahamas, in Cuba, where everybody was around the television and their countries were not playing there. From the social point of view it was amazing.”
Returning to the players at the tournament, the Portuguese said that there was particular image that stood in his mind that showed how much the players had given for their countries – that of Uruguay’s Jose Gimenez appearing in tears in the closing stages of the quarter-final against France, with his team 2-0m down and heading out of the tournament.
“I get as an image [Jose] Gimenez from Uruguay crying, not after the match, but during the match, he knew at minute 80-something that his team was out, and he couldn’t hold his emotions, and he was crying while he was still playing football.
“This is amazing for the image of the players generally, of course they react in a different ways, some cry, some don’t, some jump, some don’t jump.
People react in different ways but the feelings are similar. But I think for the image of the football player, the football player is not at all a mercenary, a football player loves to play football, a football player loves to play for his country, a football player loves to win, and a football player can cry.
“And I think that image is amazing… not for me because I know them, but for the world, it’s amazing to know that football players they love football,” Mourinho concluded.
France and Croatia meet in the World Cup final in Moscow on Sunday, capping more than four weeks of football and a tournament that many have hailed as the best World Cup ever.