A winning team usually needs to have a close bond, but that doesn’t seem to be the case during Jose Mourinho’s tenure at Real Madrid.
In 2012, Michael Essien joined the Special One for the second time when he joined Los Blancos on loan from Chelsea.
During his stay at the Santiago Bernabeu, the Ghana international reached a major milestone when he celebrated his 30th birthday.
Essien invited all his Real Madrid teammates to a party he was throwing. Only two players from the entire team participated.
Ricardo Carvalho and Luka Modric posed for a picture with Essien, who just looked happy to have someone at his party.
Given his relationship with Essien, Mourinho was furious that other players did not attend the birthday party and had to comfort the midfielder.
In the book Jose Mourinho: Up Close and Personal, Rob Beasley writes: “Mourinho said Madrid was a political club with warring factions and told me a story about Essien inviting his team-mates to his 30th birthday, but only two appeared”.
“He had to console Essien, saying it was nothing personal and that it didn’t mean the players didn’t like him, but they were just worried about themselves and had better things to do.”
Real Madrid finished the 2012/13 season empty-handed, finishing second in La Liga, reaching the semi-finals of the Champions League as well as being runners-up to rivals Atletico in the Copa del Rey.
Surprisingly, there is a song called ‘Michael Essien Birthday Party’ that was released in 2020 by Zeppy Zep, Keeko and Taco Hemingway – although it’s not entirely certain that Essien himself will have heard it.
In 2018, Mourinho spoke about his special relationship with Essien.
“He wasn’t my player, he’s my son – I’m his white dad,” Mourinho told Malaysian broadcaster Astro Arena rather strangely.
“He was probably the only one who took me to his house, to the real house, to the place where he was born, to the street where he played football as a child.”
“He made me fall in love with Ghana, with Accra where he lived, because then I understood his mentality better.”
“I understand why as a player he was ready for everything, he was ready to die for his friends, for the club, for the coach.”
“He had a destroyed knee, but with that personality, that desire and that mentality that he suffered, he always suffered, but always with a smile. Michael smiles a lot.”
After watching footage of Mourinho praising him, Essien said: “It’s kind of exciting. It’s very nice, we have a very good relationship”.
“What he says about me is very special.”