The Special One departs

As an Arsenalista, I am delighted to see The Special One leave Chelsea; no doubt Abramovitch’s millions will be again spent in vain. And yet I will miss him; of all the elegies for the ex-Chelsea manager that have been published, I think this lament is the best:

Oh Jose, how we’ll miss you. Mourinho – the man with the smouldering dark looks and the theatrical temperament. Football’s Marlon Brando. Will we ever see his like in football again? How will we replace this entertaining, contrary and exhilarating being with his Hollywood good looks and sexy accent?

He was beamed down into a world dominated by sheepskin coats, guttural accents, pot bellies and shiny red faces, and now he has left – disappearing under the cover of darkness. What a duller place football already seems without him.

I’ve met Mourinho a few times, and he didn’t disappoint. He was funny, thoughtful (running off to open the door for an elderly woman who was struggling with it, leaping up to offer me his seat), and as alluring and lovely in the flesh as he never fails to be on television.

Like George Clooney only shot through with a raffishness and unpredictability that made him seem exciting rather than prissy. He was never stiffly sophisticated like the Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger. Mourinho looked as if he spent twice as much on his clothes, but turned up with his top button undone and his shirt slightly crumpled, making him ever so much sexier.

He managed to corner the market (not a crowded one, admittedly) for elegance at matches, while looking like he hadn’t tried too hard.

And it wasn’t just the casual stubble, the Armani overcoat and the effortless air of Continental sophistication that entranced the country’s female population – it was the whirl of poetic madness that seemed to encircle him, like he’d had a glass too many of absinthe in a café on the Left Bank before taking his seat.

I’m just sorry that we won’t see more of his hilarious stunts, like when the Special One interviewed himself in front of a pack of journalists, then demanded praise for the forthright way in which he answered his own questions. And who can forget how he memorably complied with UEFA’s requirement that at least one player and one coach be made available to the press for Champions League interviews; the Special One provided the massive press corps a young weight room assistant trainer and an unknown bench warmer who had played all of 18 minutes that season.