The Special One admitted he seriously considered an offer from the Football Association, fed up after an absence from the touchline following his departure from Chelsea.
But the Portuguese coach, now in charge at Real Madrid, who left Stamford Bridge in September 2007, two months before McClaren was sacked by England and eventually replaced by Fabio Capello, explained he decided late in the day he wanted to remain in club management.
Plenty to ponder: Mourinho revealed he came close to accepting the England manager's job in 2007
'I was hours away - I almost signed up for the English national side,' said Mourinho, speaking in an interview with French sports daily L'Equipe.
'But at the last moment I began thinking: "I am going to coach a national side, there will be one match a month and the rest of the time I will be in my office or supervising matches. And then to have to wait until the summer to compete in a European Championship or a World Cup"?
'No, it wasn't for me.
'So at the last moment I pulled back, preferring to wait for the right job to come along, a good club, a challenge that could motivate me. That was Inter (Milan).'
Mourinho was out of the game for nine months before being appointed Inter coach in June 2008, leaving them for Madrid last summer.
Calling the shots: Former Chelsea boss Mourinho is now in charge at Real Madrid
'When I left Chelsea, the first month was fantastic. I went to Africa, to Japan, I did tons of things I had not been able to do,' he added.
'The second month was also good, but from the third onwards it was horrible, just awful.'
Mourinho admitted he also came close to taking the Paris St Germain job after leaving Stamford Bridge, but decided against it as he was not convinced by Ligue 1's quality.
Asked why he did not take the PSG post, he said: 'I do not know. Perhaps because of the feeling that England, Spain or Italy are more powerful leagues, and we must make the most of the best years of our career by working at the highest level.'
The Football Association were quick to respond to Mourinho's comments.
'Fabio was our first choice for England manager,' a spokesman said. 'We have made that clear from the outset.'
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Explore more:People: Fabio Capello, Jose Mourinho, Steve McClaren Places: Madrid, Milan, Spain, Japan, Italy, United Kingdom, Africa Organisations: Football Association