Tottenham manager Jose Mourinho has revealed that the ‘secret’ to his success in the EFL Cup is taking it more seriously than his rivals even though there is a stigma attached to the competition, having guided Spurs to a first domestic final in six years.
Mourinho’s Tottenham saw off in-form Championship club Brentford on Tuesday night thanks to an early goal from Moussa Sissoko and a second-half settler from Son Heung-min.
Spurs were fortunate in the third round when they were awarded a bye to the fourth round as a result of a coronavirus outbreak forcing Leyton Orient to forfeit the fixture. They later knocked out Chelsea on penalties and emerged victorious against Stoke in the quarter-finals.
Mourinho is a four-time EFL Cup winner, having won it three times over two spells at Chelsea (2005, 2007, 2015), including beating Spurs in the final six years ago, and once with Manchester United (2019).
“I came to England in 2004 and I remember that in that period I had to learn the meaning of the cups here and I always took it seriously,” the Portuguese is quoted as saying by BBC Sport.
"If there is any secret it's to take it seriously. To respect what English football is, what English clubs are, what English lower divisions are.
“If you see the winners you realise the big clubs want to win it,” he added.
“Who was the last winner apart from the normal top six? Swansea ? I remember Manchester City winning a lot of times, Chelsea winning a lot of times, I remember United winning a few times. I remember Liverpool in finals, Arsenal. The big clubs care about it."
The EFL Cup was the last major trophy won by Tottenham, coming in 2008 when they beat Chelsea - who had parted company with Mourinho only a few months earlier - in extra-time at Wembley.
League cup competitions are uncommon outside England, but Portugal is one of the few European nations to have one. It wasn’t established until 2007, several years after Mourinho last coached in his homeland, but his hometown club Vitoria Setubal actually won the first edition.