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Master's apprentice: Is Mourinho student the new 'Special One'?

By Greg Duke, CNN
  • Andre Villas Boas is following in the footsteps of his mentor Jose Mourinho
  • Villas Boas has led Porto to the Portuguese title at the age of just 33
  • Mourinho was seven years older when he won his first league title with the club
  • Both men are motivated, ambitious and superb at organizing their players

(CNN) -- There are few careers that can match the pedigree of Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho. Having just set a remarkable nine-year unbeaten home league record -- which spanned 150 matches and four clubs in four different countries -- the Portuguese manager is eyeing yet another remarkable record.

As he leads his Real side in the quarterfinal second leg against Tottenham Hotspur tonight, Mourinho is on the trail of becoming the first coach to win three European Cups with three different clubs. But as the 48-year-old aims to push his career to the next level, there may be the birth of a new star in his midst.

It was merely a coincidence that Porto clinched their 25th title as Los Merengues were shocked by Sporting Gijon at the Bernabeu -- Mourinho's first home defeat in nearly a decade -- but what is not coincidental is the way Porto have dominated their domestic championship this season.

In a fashion not seen since the heady days of Mourinho between 2002 and 2004 -- when the self proclaimed "Special One" plundered two league titles, the UEFA Cup and the Champions League -- the youthful, dynamic and ambitious coach Andre Villas Boas has swept all before him.

Will Mourinho's record ever be beaten?

Villas Boas is Mourinho's protege and student, but aged just 33 -- seven years younger than Mourinho was when he won his first title with Porto -- the question is whether the apprentice can match his former master's astonishing achievements at the Estadio do Dragao.

Porto have simply outclassed their rivals this season, winning 23 and drawing the other two of their 25 matches to wrap up the title with five games remaining.

Along the way, they have scored 61 goals and conceding a miserly 11, and are also through to the quarterfinals of the Europa League -- a competition Mourinho also won, under its former guise of the UEFA Cup, in his first full season.

Villas Boas is a young, ambitious, disciplined football lunatic, who has soaked up as much knowledge as he can from working with the best coach in the world
--Pedro Pinto

"I can find similarities between Villas Boas and Mourinho in the way they started their careers and the way in which they reached immediate success at Porto," Rui Orlando, a football commentator for Portuguese-based SportTV told CNN.

"Furthermore, both of them were not known as players and started coaching very early on, working with some really well known coaches."

CNN Sport anchor Pedro Pinto, who has followed the careers of both men closely, is even more forthright in his comparisons of the pair.

"There is no doubt in my mind that Villas Boas is the second coming of Jose. He is is a young, ambitious, disciplined football lunatic, who has soaked up as much knowledge as he can from working with the best coach in the world."

It is impossible not to draw comparisons between the two men. Mourinho learned his trade working as an interpreter for Bobby Robson at both Porto and Barcelona, picking up tips from the legendary English coach before eventually impressing with his own coaching acumen.

Villas Boas was also at Porto in the mid 1990s.

At the tender age of 17, and with no football apprenticeship behind him, his mastery of English and attention to detail impressed Robson so much that the veteran coach hired the teenager to work as part of his scouting and statistics team -- sending him to Scotland to achieve his first coaching badges.

And when Mourinho returned to Porto, after cutting his managerial teeth at Uniao Leiria, he took Villas Boas under his wing, going on to employ the willing student at both Chelsea and Inter Milan in exactly the same manner as Robson had done with him.

Like Mourinho, Villas Boas started his coaching career at a small club.

Leaving his mentor behind in Italy, Villas Boas took over at bottom of the table Academica last season, performing a minor miracle to steer a club, without a win before his arrival, to mid-table respectability.

Porto, looking for a coach after sacking Jesualdo Ferreira following their failure to retain the league title and qualify for the Champions League, quickly came a-calling -- and Villas Boas has more than justified the decision to make him the youngest coach in the Portuguese top flight, with the club suffering just one defeat in all competitions.

"He has had a very strong impact at the club, in the city and in the region," continued Orlando. "He came in after a disappointing season and immediately asserted himself with a positive and confident attitude.

"His philosophy is similar to Mourinho when he was at Porto. He likes to play attacking football based on ball possession and forcing opponents into submission and his planning is superb. He spends countless hours in his office sourcing information to give to his players."

And Pinto believes Villa Boas will go on to even greater success in the coming years. "His strength is not only tactical, it is his ability to program players into doing exactly what he tells them to do.

"His organizational and motivational techniques are so good that players really believe they can do what he tells them."

Even within the pantheon of great football coaches, there are few who have won titles before their 40th birthday; even Mourinho fails to make the grade. But with Villa Boas claiming silverware at such a young age, maybe "master" Jose should beware of the burgeoning talent of his pupil.