Jose Mourinho has paid tribute to Chelsea legend Michael Essien, describing Essien as his son.
Mourinho brought Essien to Chelsea in 2005 in a £25million transfer from Lyon and also signed him on loan at Real Madrid in 2012.
“He was not my player, he is my son – I am his white daddy,” Mourinho said in an interview with Malaysian television station Astro Supersport via Daily Mail.
“He was probably the only one who took me to his home, to the real home. To the place he was born, to the street where he played football as a kid.
“He made me fall in love with Ghana, with Accra where he lived, because then I had a better understanding of his mentality.”
Essien struggled with knee injuries during the latter half of his career but his dedication and commitment to playing through the pain barrier has stayed with Mourinho.
“I understand why as a player he was ready for everything, he was ready to die for the fellow players, for the club, for the manager, why he was ready to play like he did for me at Real Madrid with a knee that was not a knee anymore,” Mourinho added.
“It was a destroyed knee but with that personality, that desire and that mentality he suffered, always he suffered, but always with a smile. Michael smiles a lot.”
Essien was emotional after he saw the interview for the first time live in the Astro Stadium studio.
“That’s kind of emotional,” Essien said after watching the footage.
“It is very nice, we have a very good relationship.
“For him to say that about me is very special.”
Essien is loved by Chelsea fans all over the world and was a player that fought for the Chelsea badge during his time as a Chelsea player.