Soccer: Mourinho to leave Madrid

Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho will leave at the end of the season after three years at the Spanish club, paving the way for his expected return to Chelsea.

The 50-year-old Portuguese coach has two remaining matches of a season that will end on June 1 without Madrid winning a trophy.

President Florentino Perez announced at a news conference on Monday that a mutual agreement was struck to "finish the contract" after a board meeting earlier in the day.

Mourinho will leave having won only a single Spanish league title - sandwiched between four Barcelona successes, including one this season - and two domestic cups. That league title in 2012 may have brought a record 100 points, but he notably failed to deliver the club's 10th European Cup.

Mourinho is about to leave Mardid without "any pre-contract" for a replacement, according to Perez.

"After three years we both agreed this was the correct moment to finish," Perez said. "With Mourinho, we made a big leap competitively and sporting-wise. Today Madrid is where it ought to be.

"We had not reached that level prior to his arrival, so the balance of his stay here was positive."

The agreement indicates that the colorful and outspoken coach can return to Chelsea after a six-year absence without any compensation being paid by the London club to Madrid.

Rafa Benitez's interim stint in charge of Chelsea will end after a postseason tour of the United States, having secured qualification for the Champions League and won the Europa League last week.

Chelsea midfielder Frank Lampard can't wait for Mourinho to return.

"He galvanizes people," Lampard told Talk Sport radio on Monday. "His own self-confidence reflects back on his teams ... what he does is he gets the best out of players and gets this togetherness that I'd never known until he came to the club and I haven't seen it again since then."

Popular with fans and media alike in England - in stark contrasted to his many fraught relationships in Spain - Mourinho appears to have repaired his relationship with Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich to make a return to Stamford Bridge.

"He might rub people up the wrong way but, as a manager, he's brilliant with his team. Tactically, he's brilliant with individuals and I think he's brilliant with the press," Lampard said. "I know it creates a storm, but he does protect his players."

Mourinho's exit will be acrimonious amid discrepancies with some players and a hostile fan base.

It was befitting of Mourinho's fractious time in Madrid that he was sent off after furiously berating the match officials in his team's 2-1 loss to Atletico Madrid during the Copa del Rey final on Friday.

More often this season, he's been engaged in disputes internally, creating enemies and weakening his position.

The decision that enraged fans was dropping goalkeeper Iker Casillas, the captain of Madrid and Spain's world and two-time European championship-winning national team.

But the bold decision didn't pay off - and Mourinho's final season ends with Madrid once again in Barcelona's shadow.

Mourinho was an unsuccessful player whose big break in coaching came when he was hired as an interpreter for English coach Bobby Robson at Sporting Lisbon in Portugal.

Robson took Mourinho with him to FC Porto and his influence increased as he took on coaching responsibilities. The duo moved to Barcelona for the 1996-97 season, and Mourinho remained at the club under Louis van Gaal following the Englishman's departure.

Mourinho returned to Portugal but failed to win any titles during stints as a senior coach at Uniao Leiria and Benfica. That changed at his first full season at Benfica's rival Porto, winning the league, Portuguese Cup and UEFA Cup in 2003.

The following season, Mourinho led Porto to the league and Champions League titles.

Abramovich immediately hired Mourinho, who on arriving in London described himself as the "Special One."

The faith of the Chelsea owner was repaid when the club won the league for the first time in 50 years in 2005, breaking a nine-year stretch of Manchester United and Arsenal dominance.

Although Mourinho retained the title the following year, he failed to repeat the European success he had orchestrated at Porto despite fielding a more expensive and star-studded squad.

Despite winning all of English football's major honors, a power struggle with Abramovich led to Mourinho's exit in September 2007.

Mourinho spent the rest of the season without a club, before being hired by Inter Milan in June 2008.

He won back-to-back Serie A titles and two Italian cups before ending his reign with success in the 2010 Champions League final.

After becoming the third coach to win the European Cup with two teams, Mourinho was enticed to Madrid to replace Manuel Pellegrini in 2010.

Mourinho leaves Santiago Bernabeu Stadium as the club's longest-serving coach for a decade, however its jeering fans appear only too happy to see him go.

- AP

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