John Terry has revealed that he and other Chelsea players are in regular contact with Jose Mourinho, and paved the way for the Real Madrid manager's return by saying he is still 'The Special One'.
The Chelsea captain was talking to Spanish newspaper Marca and his comments will only fuel the intense speculation that Mourinho is destined for Stamford Bridge this summer.
It seems certain the Portuguese boss will leave the Bernabeu after three seasons at the helm, particularly after Real's failure to progress beyond the semi-finals of the Champions League during that time.
Mourinho, when pressed on his future plans, said after Real's exit at the hands of Borussia Dortmund that “there are clubs in England that love me; especially one”, with the 'one' widely understood to be Chelsea.
The interview with Terry revealed that Mourinho and some of the club's senior players are in contact.
"He's still 'The Special One'", Terry is quoted as saying.
"We send each other text messages and often wish each other good luck. He's interested in our results and everything that happens at the club. He's not only in contact with me but also with (Frank) Lampard and other players."
Terry, who under interim-manager Rafael Benitez has struggled to be included in Chelsea's starting XI, went on to praise Mourinho's management style.
"He's been winning titles at Real for three years and he has the chance to win the Copa del Rey this season. All I can say is that he's a top manager who I really enjoyed working under
"He always thought about the squad, not just the starting-eleven. He explained things to you, also when you weren't playing and demanded everything from you. We worked hard and we could also talk to him about personal problems. He was a friend. We were all sad when he left."
While Real Madrid's hopes of winning La Liga are over, they still have a Copa del Rey final to come a week on Friday. It seems unlikely any announcement on Mourinho's future will be made before then, with the manager himself saying last week: "First to know will be my wife and my children. Then the president (Florentino Perez) and director general (Jose Angel Sanchez).
"We will speak about the future after the end of the season. I have a Copa del Rey final and La Liga matches to play."