Former Liverpool defender Alvaro Arbeloa has hailed Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho, claiming the Portuguese boss was like a "father" to the Real Madrid players during his time in La Liga.
Mourinho ended his three seasons in charge of the La Liga giants on a sour note with a number of Real Madrid players – including captain and club legend Iker Casillas and Ballon D'Or winner Cristiano Ronaldo – and as well the Spanish press.
However, Mourinho did forge strong relationships with other members of the squad, such as Arbeloa, Xabi Alonso and Diego Lopez.
When asked during an interview with Spanish radio station Onda Cero about the Chelsea boss, Arbeloa said: "Mourinho was so close that sometimes he was a friend or father to us."
"There were good moments, he protected us, he always gave his face for us, we thanked him for putting out his chest to receive the bullets," he said.
"I can just say good things about him and he has good reasons to be bothered with people in Spain."
Meanwhile, Arbeloa blamed the Spanish press for how they treated the Portuguese boss.
He said: "There are many things I cannot explain about Mourinho's tenure at Real Madrid.
"A limit was passed with him. But now he is enjoying at Chelsea. He has a great team and he has left behind a period that was difficult for him and his family.
"I am still in touch with him, I have a good relationship with all of the coaches that I have had: Rafa Benítez, Caparrós, Pellegrini..."
Recent reports have claimed the Chelsea manager is likely to reunite with Arbeloa at Stamford Bridge, while Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is also monitoring his situation.
However, the former Liverpool star has said he wants to remain at Real Madrid despite being a fringe player under manager Carlo Ancelotti.
He said: "I am very lucky to be at Real Madrid. I have one-and-a-half years left [on my contract] and hopefully I can continue as long as possible, so my last shirt in football is the white one."