The Blues star went from being the first choice goalkeeper to the number two when Petr Cech arrived, but his manager somehow kept him happy
At the time, Mourinho’s appointment was seen as a ruthless move by the new owner at Stamford Bridge after he sacked Claudio Ranieri despite him having helped his side qualify for the Champions League ahead of Liverpool in 2003.
Ranieri was popular with most of his squad but Mourinho’s arrival from Porto quickly led to success, with back-to-back league titles and a League Cup win toasted in his first two seasons. The arrival of the ‘Special One’ has had a lasting effect on the Premier League, with the Blues remaining as one of the top clubs in the country.
Cudicini, who now works in the loan department at Chelsea’s Cobham Training base, detailed how Mourinho left a lasting legacy in west London as he now leads the club’s fiercest rivals Tottenham.
“We already had a good team, so I guess what Jose brought to the club was the mentality to be champions,” Cudicini said in the newly released book ‘The Boss – Chelsea, From Ted Drake to Frank Lampard’.
“That arrogance, knowing the strength of that team, and being very good at pushing that team in the right direction were his biggest qualities when he first came to English football and to Chelsea.
“Playing or not playing, happy or not happy at being in the team or not being in the team he got everyone on the same side, especially in that first season, to all push in the same direction, and that is the reason why Chelsea won the title for the first time in 50 years.
“They might have already been important players but he managed to change their mentality in a way to take the entire team forward together. I know his methods worked because I was one of those players in the side, or not in the side, happy or not happy about that position.
“From a personal point of view it was something I had to deal with and the manager had to deal with because the manager picked Petr Cech in front of me.
“So I saw how he managed to bring his managerial abilities in convincing everyone happy or not happy about being in the team or not being in the team because he convinced us all that we were all in it together pushing for the same target, and everyone, including myself, bought into that, and that was the only way he made us champions and the reason we were champions two seasons in a row.
“He had a very strong personality to achieve that, and he brought a different way of training, totally different to Ranieri, he was definitely a breath of fresh air with his attitude that brought a new mentality to the team.
“I have to say that his relationship with his players was built on trust, and I trusted him, because even though he didn’t start me as first choice goalkeeper, in the first couple of years I still played 13 or 14 games, which was most unusual for a reserve goalkeeper, if the first choice keeper wasn’t injured.
“He allocated me certain games. It was normal to have a first choice keeper and the reserve would sit on the bench, but here, even though Petr Cech started, I had a lot of opportunities to play and to support and help the team to gain so much success over the years.
“The fact that I felt as if I had an important part to play in the team, that kept me happy, even though I wasn’t starting all of the games, I was still much involved in a great team at a great club, and I did my best to win my place back, which kept everyone motivated.”
Mourinho remains the most successful manager in Che history despite having a strained relationship with the supporters of his former team due to moving onto manage at Manchester United and Tottenham.
Like Mourinho, Cudicini ultimately moved onto play for rivals Spurs and he doesn’t regret making that choice despite his close connection with the west Londoners. Following Avram Grant coming in after Mourinho was sacked, legendary Brazilian manager Luiz Felipe Scolari arrived but he struggled to get the team behind his ideas.
“I had enjoyed 10 years at Chelsea, but it all came to an end when Big Phil Scolari became manager,” Cudicini added. “My relationship with the Brazilian manager was clearly not the best and was one of the reasons I left.
“It all started in pre-season when we had a few arguments over certain decisions and clearly those arguments didn’t go down well with the new manager.
“They were technical decisions that occurred in the friendly matches, we simply disagreed on things, and I don’t know the reason why the relationship was as it was, but that was the situation. After those disagreements in pre-season we didn’t see eye to eye on certain things when he took decisions I didn’t agree with, and he sent me to play a few games in the reserves.
“His decision to play me in the reserves wasn’t the usual sporting decision, to keep me fit, but it was used as a punishment. I was not the only player in the squad who had their difference with the manager! Not the only one unhappy with the situation.
“After six months I had the opportunity to move – and a few weeks later Scolari got the sack! Do I regret my move from Chelsea to Spurs. No, I don’t, there are no regrets. The manager was not the only reason I left Chelsea. My move to Spurs was a great experience – where I met some very nice people!”
Carlo Cudicini contrubuted to The Boss – Chelsea From Ted Drake to Frank Lampard by Harry Harris. Foreword by Frank Lampard and introduction by Ivor Baddiel.