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I experienced repeated physical abuse from Jose Mourinho following a memorable event involving Manchester United.

Benni McCarthy, currently a member of the Manchester United coaching staff, was also the central figure in one of the most notable incidents at Old Trafford in the past twenty years.

This instance did not qualify as one of the remarkable comebacks by United. The Old Trafford European night was not renowned. Fortunately, it was not in favor of the home team. On Tuesday, March 9, 2004, during a Champions League second-leg match, McCarthy takes a free-kick for Porto. In the last moments of the game, Tim Howard saves the shot but inadvertently directs it towards Costinha, who easily scores by placing the ball into the unguarded net.

However, the objective is not the aspect that remains in everyone’s memory. The reason we are still discussing it after 20 years is not because of that. It is the subsequent event. Amidst the jubilation of Porto’s players celebrating the goal that will eliminate United from European competition, a relatively obscure 41-year-old coach begins his journey down the sideline, his black coat billowing behind him, before joining in the festivities.

This marked the day that Jose Mourinho transitioned from being a talented coach in Portugal to becoming a highly acclaimed figure in the world of football. Arguably, that day marked the birth of the special one’s legend.


United suffered a defeat in the first leg a few weeks ago, during a match where Quinton Fortune initially gave them the advantage, but McCarthy managed to score two goals against the team he admired when he was young. Roy Keane was dismissed from the game, and Sir Alex Ferguson expressed his dissatisfaction.

Ferguson accused Mourinho of being insincere and referred to him as “big man” and “boss” during that evening. However, Mourinho retaliated after the match with a scathing remark, a style of insult that he would become known for in the future.

Mourinho commented on Ferguson’s emotional state, acknowledging his understanding of the reasons behind it. “With some of the world’s top players at his disposal, their performance should be significantly better.” You would experience sadness if your team is decisively overwhelmed by opponents who have been constructed with only 10% of the allocated funds.

Although there was hostility and Porto had achieved success under Mourinho, Manchester United were considered the favorites to reverse the situation at Old Trafford. They were in a favorable position when Paul Scholes scored after 32 minutes. However, Porto remained competitive throughout the match and as time ran out, they only required a single opportunity, which presented themselves in the form of a free-kick taken by an unexpected player.

“Typically, Deco is the one who takes free-kicks. However, he had a total of five or six attempts where he kicked the ball so forcefully that it missed the target completely and ended up in the stands, or it hit the wall,” McCarthy stated during an interview with Graham Hunter on The Big Interview podcast.

“We were awarded a free-kick in the 90th minute, which would be our final opportunity in the game. I requested to take the kick, but he declined, stating that it was within his skill level.” I responded, “No, my friend, this particular situation is a bit more distant for you. It is my turn now, so kindly allow me to handle this one, and in return, you will have the opportunity to handle the next one.” He says, ‘No, let me have this one and you will receive the next one’.

“Both of us are positioned near the ball. He is preparing to place the ball, while I am standing there. In that moment, I confidently expressed that I have the ability to score against the goalkeeper from my current position. He responded by saying that he also possesses the same capability.” I observed Jorge Costa, the captain who had previously left the field due to injury, approaching with great intensity from the substitute bench. Jose instructed him to convey to me the message of taking the free-kick.

Howard’s performance was far from impressive, despite McCarthy’s attempt to portray it as a remarkable save. Costinha was able to score without any opposition and secure Porto’s overall advantage.

“I was about to celebrate as if I had scored the goal myself, but then I noticed a person wearing a black coat running towards us. They jumped on top of Costinha, and we were all crowded together. Suddenly, someone landed on top of me, and I felt overwhelmed. Mourinho was also lying on top of me,” recalled McCarthy, and this is the memorable part of the story.

“Subsequently, he rises from his position and seizes me, expressing, ‘Exceptional execution of the free-kick. I possessed the certainty that you would successfully score.’ Now, assert, you inform everyone that we understand, we amplify the stadium and we just safeguard. He repeatedly struck me and I was contemplating, “It is causing me pain.”

Carlos Cardoso, employed as a freelance staff member for Porto’s official travel agency, was positioned in close proximity to the Porto dugout when Costinha scored. His initial inclination was to direct his gaze towards the club’s renowned and adored boss.

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