Football: Some young players lack real motivation to succeed, Mourinho tells Singapore audience

SINGAPORE – There is a generational divide in football with some young players more in love with the riches and lifestyle of the game than trying to reach their potential, Jose Mourinho told a Singapore audience on Thursday (March 25).

The Tottenham manager was part of a virtual live event, “Game On with Mourinho”, organised by club sponsor and insurer AIA, and took questions pertaining to mental health and making a career in football from Singaporeans.

Among those in attendance included Singapore Premier League club Young Lions’ head coach Philippe Aw and player Harhys Stewart.

Asked what he thinks a young aspiring footballer should do to make it as a professional, the Spurs boss said: “You have to love football and always dream about football. Don’t dream about what football can give you.

“Many of this new footballers, they are more in love with what football can give them and the lifestyle it can give them. This is not the real motivation.

“You look at older players that are still playing, people like (Zlatan) Ibrahimovic at 39, these are not people who are in love with what football has given them, they have everything (and yet) they are in love with football.

“When you are 12, you have to love every moment training, playing and watching top professionals play- that is the most important thing.”

Swedish striker Ibrahimovic worked with Mourinho over two spells, first at Inter Milan in Italy and later at Manchester United. Together, they won the Serie A league title and later a Carabao Cup and Europa League at Old Trafford.

The 58-year-old Portuguese also revealed some of the difficulties he faces when dealing with younger players. Asked how he teaches his players to be motivated, he replied: “I don’t believe I teach. It is a process. It’s not like you can conduct a couple of lessons.

“There are no miracles. Everything depends on the personality and the willingness to listen and improve.

“Sometimes, you have people who are totally open to that and others who are not so open.

“It is important to understand that players and coaches, students and teachers, they spend a few hours together a day but then there is a outside world that spends more time with them.

“This can be their friends and entourage. They can also be an influence and sometimes there is a contradiction in what they listen to outside, and they don’t always work in our favour.

“It is not an easy process.”

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His career – he has managed big clubs like United, Inter, Chelsea and Real Madrid – has brought countless trophies but also controversy.

Asked what was the harshest criticism he has received, Mourinho said: “I don’t remember because I don’t react. I don’t need criticism to react.

“I am my biggest critic. I am the one who analyses myself everyday. I am so used to people that think they know more about my job than myself.”

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