27 July 2012
José Mourinho received the Prestígio Fernando Soromenho prize in Lisbon. The award, which is the highest distinction given each year by the Association of Sports Journalists of Portugal (CNID), recognises the sporting achievements of the Whites’ coach whilst he has been with Real Madrid and with whom he completed the best league campaign in history whilst winning last year’s title. The Whites’ coach spoke of this evening’s match at the press conference after the prize-giving ceremony: "The match against Benfica will be tough. From the midfield forward we have lots of players, but at the back we don’t have anybody because they are on holiday. Benfica are a strong team that are playing in their home stadium and will be motivated by playing against Real Madrid. Winning or losing is not important. Our pre-season starts tomorrow, but today we have a match and want to use it to allow the first team players to get up to match pace and to give experience to the second team players. I hope we meet in other circumstances when we are both at 100%"
The Whites’ coach also spoke about the prize that he received from his countrymen: "I wish to thank the CNID for the award. They have always shown friendliness towards with me. I’d also like to thank everyone in the room for being here. It is always a special feeling to receive an award and this one also comes in Portugal, my country. It is special for me and for my family".
Mourinho praised the professionalism and dedication of Coentrão, who returned early from his holidays in order to play this evening in the Eusebio Cup: "Fabio is a Benfica fan in his heart. The last day of his holidays was due to be tomorrow, but for him this game is special and it means a lot to him. He won’t play much but he will play and he will be applauded by the fans here in the same way that his is so often in Madrid. He will want to show them his game".
The Portuguese mentioned several players by name. When asked about Kaká and his role in the team he confirmed that he will be in today’s starting line-up: "He will play and will do so from the beginning up until around the 45 to 60 minutes mark. I do not know whether or not he’ll stay and the team doesn’t know either. Between us there is no doubt, he knows what I think and I know what he thinks. In the meantime, he is still our player and maybe he will be for another season. If he stays, I would love it, and he will travel to the United States with us".
About Sahin he said: "The market is open until 31st August and I never liked that because you start the pre-season and the league and it leaves time for lots of player exits. I want a squad of 20 players plus goalkeepers because I want to leave one slot open and leave the door open for the younger players. Someone has to come out and try to be honest with players. Nuri is in the group of players between the teams and if a good opportunity to play comes along we believe that is better for him to take it and go elsewhere to play his football this season".
With reference to the possibility of Modric ending up at the Whites and of Jesé playing at Benfica, the Portuguese was blunt: “Jesé will not travel with us to the United States. About Modric, I do not talk about players that are not in our team". Mourinho also praised Eusebio, to whom Real Madrid and Benfica will pay tribute this evening, "Eusebio is Eusebio and for any Portuguese there’s no need to say anything more. In Madrid, Di Stéfano is Di Stéfano and in Portugal Eusebio is Eusebio. Imagine what Eusebio means to me, he influenced the early years of my life and my first thoughts about football. He is a Portuguese who lives life in a very special way and he always thinks of his countrymen".
Finally, he evaluated the status of the Portuguese league: "It has to adapt to modern times and face the difficult economic situation facing Europe and the country. The two largest teams are Benfica and Porto, as shown by their results, and it seems that things will continue in the same vein. These are teams that have good results in European competitions. I do not expect any surprises, I expect this to continue. Being abroad, I grow more patriotic every day and I am unconditional follower of the national team".