Seven years after their first meeting, Jose Mourinho and Alvaro Morata are set to be reunited this summer, with the striker keen to force a Real Madrid exit and a move to Manchester United.
The Portuguese coach has always rated the forward, ever since their paths first crossed at the Valdebebas training complex in Madrid, and we take a look back at some of the key dates in their relationship.
24 hours ahead of the 2010 Champions League final, Mourinho’s Inter side trained at Valdebebas and that was when the two men behind one of this summer’s main transfer sagas first met.
The coach was set for a move to Real Madrid that summer and he spoke with some members of the Juvenil B team, promising them he would give them opportunities if they were good enough.
Morata was on holiday in Malaga when he received a call from the club, telling him to return to the capital to train with the first team, as he had been one of eight players chosen by the club and by Mourinho to test themselves at a higher level.
Then, on June 23, they played a mini match against Castilla and the then-17-year-old striker scored the game’s only goal, earning him a spot on the pre-season tour to California.
In San Francisco, he debuted in a friendly against Club America six minutes from the end, a day he would never forget.
Following that tour, Morata returned to the Castilla team, but he did make his competitive senior debut that year, almost scoring after coming on in the 89th minute of a match against Malaga.
That 2010/11 season, he also enjoyed a run-out against Levante in the Copa del Rey.
This was the day that the player signed his first contract renewal with Real Madrid, now a professional one, with Mourinho’s approval.
During the pre-season of the summer of 2011, Morata was playing at the Under-19s European Championships, so he couldn’t join the Real senior side in the USA and China, but Mourinho did reward his top-scorer performances from that tournament with some minutes in the Bernabeu Trophy match against Galatasaray.
Only once that season did Mourinho play Morata in an official match, this one against Espanyol, but his season with Castilla was impressive and he had even been showing he could play as a winger.
Mourinho made the decision to promote the player to his senior squad for the 2012/13 season, a big step for him, at the age of 19.
Morata scored against Levante, which earned Mourinho’s side a late victory.
“It was I who brought him into the first team and not anyone else,” the coach pointed out, while also praising the player.
If Manchester United and Real Madrid can work out a deal, Morata and Mourinho could add several more special dates to their list soon.