Jose Mourinho has recorded a special tribute for the Football Association's 150th anniversary traditions, pledging again that he will come back to the Premier League one day to manage an English team.
Mourinho, 49, is in England for a League Managers' Association seminar at St George's Park but is unable to attend the FA's celebrations at Wembley on Wednesday because he is back in Spain for Real Madrid's Copa del Rey quarter-final against Valencia tonight. In his tribute, he pays a glowing compliment to English football.
Mourinho's side are currently third and 18 points off leaders Barcelona with the form of Real Madrid this season prompting more suggestions that this will be his last season at the club. Mourinho said: "In England you feel the real passion for the game. You also don't feel what we feel in almost every other country which is the passion for clubs. In England, it's not just about passion for clubs, it's mainly about passion for football – and you feel it.
"So, my memories are great. I loved it from the first to the last day. I don't regret my last day because after that I was lucky enough to enjoy Italy and to have and enjoy some success there and also in Spain, so I don't regret the day I left. But I know that one day I will come back because English football means a lot to myself."
As part of the FA's celebrations, the governing body has confirmed that Pele will be the guest of honour at the inaugural England awards night on 3 February, at which, among others prizes, the national team's player of the year will be honoured. The ceremony at St George's Park will take place three days before England play Brazil at Wembley, a further part of the 150th anniversary celebrations.
Tomorrow, a number of high-profile figures from English football will attend to mark the beginning of the celebrations, although on this occasion it is understood that David Beckham is unable to be there. The FA has selected foreign as well as English players who have played a major role in the life of the English game, especially the FA Cup.
Mourinho who won the competition with Chelsea in 2007, said: "I know the history of football. I know what the English FA means to the world of football. I know that the FA Cup was the first competition organised in the world of football in the 1870s. I know what I felt when I had to go up the Wembley stairs to get the FA Cup. But for me, the FA Cup represents the passion of football. It represents clean football. It represents the good smell of football. If you play in England, you feel it. You feel the passion.
"You feel that it's clean, you feel proud to be in football – even in the worst moments. That's pure football. That's the football you play as a kid in the street transported through time and space into organised competition and into the real world of football."