Some 50km south of Lisbon, SETÚBAL is a bustling and fairly industrial port, though its historic, pedestrianized centre is both lively and highly attractive, set round a series of squares and narrow alleys filled with decent shops and restaurants. It’s a pleasant place to spend some time – take a dolphin trip or look round the remarkable Igreja de Jesus – while its ferry link over the wide Sado estuary gives easy access to miles of long sandy beaches.
Setúbal’s most famous son, José Mourinho, is one of Europe’s most successful and controversial football managers. Born in Setúbal on January 26, 1963, Mourinho grew up supporting Vitória Setúbal, where his father was goalkeeper. He began his managerial career coaching their junior team after a modest playing career, which included a spell at Sesimbrense of Sesimbra, up the coast. His big break, however, was being former England manager Bobby Robson’s translator at Barcelona. He exploited what he learnt from the English manager to turn round the fortunes of the previously useless União Leiria, which alerted Porto to his managerial talents. Under Mourinho, Porto swiftly landed the Portuguese league, Portuguese Cup and UEFA Cup (all in 2003), and they were crowned European Champions in 2004. His fame was cemented when he moved to Chelsea later that year and promptly won back-to-back league titles (they had not won a league title previously for half a century).
Calling himself “the special one”, Mourinho was booted out by the London club in 2007 when it was felt he was getting bigger than the club itself, but after a year off – mostly spent back in Setúbal – his career blossomed further, when he moved to Inter Milan. Here, he not only won back-to-back Italian league titles, but also picked up the European Champions League in 2010. His phenomenal success continued when he moved to Real Madrid, where he won the Spanish league title in 2011, and he was subsequently lured back to London in 2013 for a second stint with Chelsea, winning them the league yet again in 2015. Nevertheless, his off-the-field persona always attracts controversy. Booted out from Chelsea after a disastrous start to the 2015–16 season, he stirred up the Italian media with the same aplomb as he did in the UK and made himself unpopular in some quarters of Spain after poking the Barcelona coach in the eye. Mourinho’s appointment as manager of Manchester United in 2016 was seen as a mixed blessing by many: controversy seems as inevitable to his career as silverware.
Despite his wealth and international profile, Mourinho remains loyal to his Portuguese roots. He married his childhood sweetheart (they have two children) and continues to visit his family in Setúbal. Not surprisingly, he has become a Portuguese national hero, and Setúbal’s seafront road was recently renamed Avenida José Mourinho.