Jose's twist to the tale that you can't win with kids How a teacher's life brought perspective for Mourinho in tackling the pressure game

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The Independent Football

Not so. "Yesterday I went to the cinema to see Fantastic Four," Mourinho said on Friday. "For my kids it was the third time in a week. For me it was the second." The small insight into what the Chelsea manager does in his spare time is offered up in response to questions about how he relaxes. How, with the new Premiership season starting for him today, away to the newly promoted Wigan Athletic, he finds precious time from the 24/7 life in football's fastest lane. Many would assume it's simply, unhealthily, all-consuming as it appears to be for his rivals.

"But my children are very small," Mourinho says. "Five and eight. They still need me. They still want me. So what do I do? I'm with them." And that includes trips to see the film version of that old Marvel Comics team of superheroes waging their battle to save the earth against Dr Doom (aka, for Chelsea fans perhaps, Arsène Wenger).

But the cinema visits are not just for the benefit of Matilde and Jose Jnr. Their father, too, loves films. Mourinho often refers to his life as "my movie". On the eve of last year's Champions' League final he planned to watch a DVD of a John Travolta film on his laptop while the pressure on him over his departure from Porto was, he said, "worthy of Don Corleone".

But there's another reel too and one which is played over and over in Mourinho's head when he takes a moment out from the madness and excesses of professional football and offers another insight, this time into his psyche.

It refers to his previous life as a teacher, back in Setubal, his home town to the industrial south of the Portuguese capital, Lisbon, where he worked with disabled children.

"You can imagine," Mourinho says, "a kid who cannot walk and, after two years, the kid is already climbing the stairs and walking without help. It's a big victory. And if I go home now and again I remember these kids. My city is very, very small. If I am there for two or three days I see these people always."

It is a job he did for three years and one he says he "enjoyed very much". It's probably what he would be doing now had football not intervened. From 8am to 2pm he worked with the children, teaching them physical education, helping with their therapy, and then from 4pm Mourinho coached the Under-18 players from Vitoria Setubal. It was his first taste of running a team. "I was happy. I was happy," he says.

"At that time it was my satisfaction. Now it's different. Football is football. I have a lot of respect for people who work with kids. I don't know in England but in my country teachers, especially the ones working for the government, they study all their lives, they go to university and after university they specialise in different areas. All their lives they are studying and involved in information and, at this moment, in one week, I get more money than they do in one year." Or, more accurately, than they earn in three years.

Not that Mourinho, with his £5.2m a year (before bonuses) - the highest wage at Chelsea - feels overpaid. "No, no," he says with a laugh. "What is not right is what they earn."

Nevertheless, it offers him a sense of perspective. And one which he applies daily. "It helps me to think that we and especially them [the players] are privileged, privileged people," Mourinho says. "And sometimes you create a nightmare for nothing and, when I remember a lot the kids I worked with, then how can the players be unhappy or make a war because they are not playing or were not selected? It's ridiculous. It helps me in the same way as it helps people when they travel and go to Africa and see kids dying in every corner. It helps in that way."

Africa is close to his heart. "My wife [Tami] is even more important than me," he says of the influences on his children. "She has a lot of values. She is Portuguese but because her father was military she was born in Angola. Her father was in the Portuguese army fighting. She was born there and has a big, big feeling towards Africa and what is related to Africa - kids dying and all the misery that's in Africa. My wife is very influenced by that."

For Mourinho this is certainly not lip service. Instead it allows him to state, categorically, that what he feels in his present post "is not pressure". Pressure, he says, is what people in his previous profession experience. Not that he would switch back. "I don't change my life now," Mourinho says. "This [football] is what I really love, what I really dream of. This is the life I always wanted to have and I would not change it for anything. But that period of my life was very, very, very, very good."

As is the present one, of course. Mourinho's position at Chelsea has never been more secure, his power base never wider. He is, above any player, above the chief executive Peter Kenyon, the most valuable asset at the world's richest football club.

And he, undoubtedly, knows and lets slip that he gave up a "good contract with a brand to get Armani", whom he persuaded to give away shirts to CLIC Sargent, the children's cancer charity, which has been adopted by Chelsea. "This kind of thing is the minimum I can do. For me it is nothing. For them it is important. My contribution now is about money," he says. "It was about work."

His charity, however, only extends so far. There is, after all, a football match to play. Today. A championship to defend. A billionaire to keep happy. A reputation - for The Special One - to enhance. Mourinho bridles at suggestions that he was ever an "underdog". Even at Uniao de Leiria, the relatively obscure Portuguese club he used to manage, "we could beat any team", he says.

But what of Wigan, whose manager Paul Jewell came to visit Chelsea's training ground several weeks ago? What team-talk would Mourinho give were he in the Wigan dressing room? "It's 11 against 11, one ball, everything in football is possible," he says before adding characteristically: "If they perform very well and if Chelsea perform very badly they can win. And that can happen. That can happen."