Tottenham boss Jose Mourinho has responded in kind to Mikel Arteta’s glowing praise ahead of the north London derby and revealed he has known the Arsenal coach since he was a schoolboy at Barcelona.
The two managers go head-to-head as rivals on Sunday but their relationship dates back decades to when Mourinho was a coach at Barca under Louis van Gaal and Arteta was playing in the club’s famed La Masia academy.
Mourinho says he will always have a fondness for Arteta as a result – and has only recently started calling him “Mister” after his move into coaching.
The respect is clearly mutual, with Arteta having described Mourinho as ‘world-class’ and backing him to win titles again, and the Spurs boss was grateful for those comments, saying his counterpart has a difficult job to turn Arsenal around in the short-term while also building for the future.
Asked about Arteta’s comments, Mourinho said at his pre-match press conference: ‘Look I met Mikel when Mikel was a kid in Barcelona. I was there with Mr Van Gaal, Mikel was a kid. Really, really a kid.