Wesley Sneijder blew up the myth that Jose Mourinho is a control freak who never trusts his players.
The Dutchman raised the lid on how Mourinho led Inter Milan to a historic triple in the Champions League, Serie A and Coppa Italia ten years ago.
And he insists that the secret to the Tottenham boss’s success is that he gives his players so much freedom off the pitch that they are driven to win games for him.
The 36-year-old, writing in his new autobiography Sneijder, said: “Mourinho made his own laws – and the players loved him.
“He knew how to handle us so well. He said, “I give you more freedom than you are used to and in return I get a better team.”
“During the games he asked for everything from us. But away from the field it gave us a lot of space. Drinking wine, chips … I’m sure he knew we were doing these things. “
Sneijder, who lowered the curtain last year in a brilliant career that saw him win titles in the Netherlands, Spain, Italy and Turkey, added: “We were also free to choose what to wear.
“We had a sponsor for all our clothes, but Mourinho said we shouldn’t have worn the clothes if we hadn’t wanted to.
“He said: ‘You are a footballer, not a fashion puppet.’ Only three things were important: train hard, stay focused and have fun.
“So we all wore our suits or jeans. Everyone wore different colored polo shirts.
“It was so much fun – but nobody at Inter had the courage to face Mourinho about it.”
Mourinho was rebuilding his reputation when he took over from Inter after being kicked out of Chelsea – just as he is to Spurs after being fired from Manchester United last season. He won the Serie A title in his first campaign and then took Inter to the top.
But it wasn’t a soft touch – and Sneijder remembered how he taught the controversial striker Mario Balotelli (below) a lesson in humility.
“Mourinho has always protected us – but don’t mess around,” said Sneijder.
“Mario Balotelli has tried it. He was young and thought he knew everything. And when Mourinho didn’t use it much, Mario came into my hotel room one night when I was with a few other players. It was 10.30pm and he said, ‘I’m leaving the pitch, the manager isn’t taking me seriously. I want more playing time. ‘
“Mourinho later told us that Mario was welcome back only if he apologized to the whole team and to him, the manager.
“Mario did exactly that and they came back with their arms around their shoulders. Everything was going well again, at least so thought Balotelli.
“During the Champions League final, Mourinho told Balotelli to warm up for 45 minutes, then let Marco Materazzi warm up for five minutes. Materazzi arrived, Balotelli did not. Mourinho has its laws. “Sneijder added:” He did the most unexpected things. Maicon received a red card and was suspended for two games. The next day Mourinho dragged him into training, called him a silly boy and then told him to go find the his family in Brazil.
“He did the same with me. I was alone in Milan and my girlfriend was in Amsterdam. When she heard this, she said that I should jump on the plane and see her for a few days.
“Jose told me to come back on Friday and when I told him we were going to have a game on Saturday, he said,” Exactly – and you’re going to play me out of the skin. “
“What a brilliant boss. Mourinho and I were one. “