Manchester United have confirmed the arrival of Jose Mourinho as their new manager on a three-year deal. The 53-year-old, winner of three Premier League titles with Chelsea, takes the reins days after Louis van Gaal was relieved of his duties in the aftermath of a difficult 2015-16 campaign that saw the club lift the FA Cup for the first time since 2004, but miss out on qualification for the Champions League after finishing fifth in the league.
Speculation suggesting that Mourinho was being lined up to replace the Dutchman has been widespread for months now and his appointment was considered a formality after it became clear that his predecessor would not be permitted to see out the final 12 months of his own three-year contract. It is the self-proclaimed "Special One's" first job since exiting Chelsea for the second and surely final time in December 2015.
Mourinho retained the support of the fans during the final throes of his recent stretch at Stamford Bridge, but was shown the door after overseeing an alarmingly swift decline that left the champions perched one point above the relegation zone, just seven months after winning the title at a canter.
"To become Manchester United manager is a special honour in the game," Mourinho, who has the option of extending his contract to 2020, said. "It is a club known and admired throughout the world. There is a mystique and a romance about it which no other club can match. I have always felt an affinity with Old Trafford; it has hosted some important memories for me in my career and I have always enjoyed a rapport with the United fans. I'm looking forward to being their manager and enjoying their magnificent support in the coming years."
Executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward added: "José is quite simply the best manager in the game today. He has won trophies and inspired players in countries across Europe and, of course, he knows the Premier League very well, having won three titles here. I'd like to take this opportunity to welcome him to Manchester United. His track record of success is ideal to take the club forward."
The most successful manager in Chelsea's history, Mourinho also won the FA Cup and three League Cup' medals during two spells in English football but claimed that he felt his work had been "betrayed" following a ninth league defeat of the season against Leicester City. His second stint was also marred by controversial criticism of former team doctor Eva Carneiro.
A former translator and assistant to Bobby Robson at Barcelona, the Portuguese briefly took charge of Benfica and Uniao de Leiria before rising to prominence by guiding Porto to two league titles, the Uefa Cup and an unlikely Champions League triumph between 2002-04. That latter success included a 3-2 last-16 aggregate victory over Manchester United, provoking Mourinho's famous jubilant touchline gallop at Old Trafford.
After bidding a surprise farewell to Chelsea in 2007 following a breakdown in his relationship with owner Roman Abramovich, he replaced Roberto Mancini at Inter Milan and won Serie A twice in succession, while also lifting the Coppa Italia. A 2-0 victory over Bayern Munich at the Santiago Bernabeu in May 2010 then saw him become only the third manager in history to win the Champions League with two different clubs.
A swift return to Madrid beckoned, where Mourinho took his tally of domestic titles to seven and also triumphed in the Copa del Rey during an eventful three-year stint undermined by an allegedly poor relationship with senior players such as Iker Casillas and Sergio Ramos. He returned to Chelsea in June 2013 after being overlooked in favour of David Moyes as Sir Alex Ferguson's successor at Manchester United, but has long been said to crave the role at Old Trafford.
His appointment will reignite an intense feud with Pep Guardiola, who is due to leave Bayern Munich and replace Manuel Pellegrini as Manchester City boss from 1 July. The two former colleagues, widely regarded as the best managers in the world, clashed during their respective spells with Real and El Clasico rivals Barcelona.