“My life,” he boasted in one television advertisement, “is about keeping one step ahead. That’s why my card is American Express.”
It may have been a bad few days on the pitch for Jose Mourinho, with Real Madrid dropping points to Malaga and Villarreal, but France Football’s release this week announcing the world’s highest-earning players and coaches has given further credence to the Portuguese’s claim to being ahead of the rest.
While the Blancos boss’ name is chanted long and hard to this very day by fans of his former clubs Chelsea and Inter, he’s also the most wanted of all of his peers when it comes to companies looking to make money from football’s big names. His €10 million annual salary is topped up by a mind-boggling €4.8m in endorsements, setting him apart from his rivals as the highest earner in the coaching fraternity. Even Carlo Ancelotti’s recently-signed mega-money deal with Paris Saint-Germain can’t knock the Portuguese off top spot.
“This elite partnership brings two of the top forces in football together, which I’m sure will prove to be a powerful combination,” said Thierry Weil, Adidas’ Global Head of Football Sports Marketing, on announcing his company’s link-up with Mourinho. And it was in his choice of words that one can discover much of the secret behind the 49-year-old’s commercial success.
But how has he become such a force? Eddie Hammerman - Director at ISEBOX.net, a leading global sports content distribution platform - believes Mourinho has realised you can’t get too much of a good thing.
“He has worked out how the multibillion-pound football machine brings entertainment to the masses,” says Hammerman. “He knows how to grab the headlines without kicking a ball, how to generate drama at press conferences, and how a killer soundbite or photo opportunity reverberates around the world.
“Men want to be him, and women want him to teach them the offside rule.”
But doesn’t his sometimes controversial approach, like the one which saw him sent off on Wednesday night, lose him part of his commercial identity?
“Controversy, and unswerving self-confidence sprinkled with arrogance, is part of his appeal. It’s his platform to increase his global profile,” Hammerman continues.
“As long as he is able to generate brand loyalty, companies will pay for the privilege of association. If this changes as it did with Tiger Woods, then sponsors will quickly, yet reluctantly, cut ties.
“The reason for their reluctance is there aren’t many truly global sporting superstars who transcend their sport, language, religion, country, politics and gender.”
His sponsorship incomings alone, remarkably, are trumped by the salaries of only 15 coaches across the world. The likes of Luiz Felipe Scolari and Diego Maradona earn less for doing their jobs than Mourinho does for just being Mourinho. He even earns more away from the pitch than players such as Samuel Eto’o, Philipp Lahm and Frank Lampard, despite the multimillion-euro boot and clothing deals regularly available to the world’s top footballers.
Professor Chris Halliburton, from ESCP Europe Business School, says it is a collection of factors which makes Mourinho so ‘Special’.
“Unquestionably, he has high personal brand value coming from a quirky mix of footballing success, looks, moodiness, ego and by being both articulate and very different - something other football coaches, or sports people generally, are not,” explains Professor Halliburton.
“My view is that brand value can be measured in any of three different ways, and he scores highly on all three.
“First, there’s high awareness and strong brand image - people know him, he has high visibility (even in countries he left some time ago) and he triggers strong brand associations.
“Secondly, the consumer response to this strong brand image - do more people show up when he is there? Does he reinforce loyalty to the club?
“And finally, financial brand value - Mourinho is strong across a number of possible measures - bums on seats, TV ratings, international competitions, sponsorship deals, celebrity marketing - you name it!
“Jose Mourinho shows a similar brand strength, albeit in a very different way, to David Beckham. But there is no denying his appeal and his publicity potential.”
Beyond football-oriented link-ups, he has become the face of so much more. To his countrymen, he is also one of the features of Portugal’s 2018 Ryder Cup bid, a representative for Turismo de Portugal, and even an advocate for the Portuguese Cork Association’s push to end the use of screw-top wine bottles!
Perhaps his piece de resistance was his deal with Millennium Bank, which included him boasting on a TV advert of his heartfelt belief in the power of Portugal’s economy to overcome its recent catastrophic downturn. Clearly, at a time of great difficulty for the Iberian nation, it is Mourinho they believe in more than anyone.
“As coaches are selling expertise, insight and personality, they have to work harder to secure sponsorship deals but the pay-off is potentially bigger as the audience is broader,” explains Hammerman. “Mourinho can sell you sportswear as easily as HDTVs or financial services.”
THE MANAGERIAL RICH LIST - TOP 20
Jose Mourinho €14.8m
Carlo Ancelotti €13.5m
Pep Guardiola €9.5m
Arsene Wenger €9.0m
Guus Hiddink €8.6m
Fabio Capello €8.5m
Sir Alex Ferguson €8.0m
Dick Advocaat €7.0m
Jose Antonio Camacho €6.1m
Roberto Mancini €5.9m
Louis van Gaa l€5.5m
Harry Redknapp €5.3m
Andre Villas-Boas €5.1m
Jupp Heynckes €5.0m
Luciano Spalletti €4.9m
Kenny Dalglish €4.9m
Luiz Felipe Scolari €4.1m
Manuel Pellegrini €4.0m
Diego Maradona €3.8m
David Moyes €3.6m