32. Inter: 2009/10
Mourinho was back atop the pile in Europe when he capped the 2009/10 season by guiding Inter to this trophy for the first time in 45 years.
It was part of a treble as Inter captured both the Serie A title and Coppa Italia domestically. Yet the signature triumph came in the Champions League where Mourinho and an experienced group of winners engineered some impressive results. They included beating former club Chelsea in the last 16, before easing past CSKA Moscow in the quarter-final. Then came a titanic last-four tussle with holders Barcelona.
A 3-1 win in Milan may have owed a lot to the linesman’s flag not being raised on two occasions. But it also showcased the underrated firepower at Mourinho’s disposal. Samuel Eto’o and Goran Pandev offered pace, while Diego Milito was a powerhouse with a mind that never stopped working. This brilliant forward line was assisted by Dutch maestro Wesley Sneijder.
Behind this quartet was arguably the sturdiest defense of the Champions League era. Walter Samuel, Christian Chivu, Maicon, Javier Zanetti and goalkeeper Julio Cesar could roll down the shutters against any opposition.
They did it expertly in the return against Barca at the Camp Nou. Midfield enforcer Thiago Motta was sent off, but the Blaugrana could only find the net once, leaving Mourinho to sprint across the home soil in a show of defiance and jubilation.
Victory in the final came at the expense of a capable Bayern Munich team. Once again an opponent’s chief attacking threats were snuffed out, with Robben rendered irrelevant. Inter dispensed with possession and relied on two-goal hero Milito’s magic on the break.
They were often a chore to watch, but Mourinho’s men vanquished some of the most celebrated teams and players of the era. Had this aging group kept on winning after Mourinho left for the Spanish capital, it would rank higher.