The Nigeria international has worked under the two top managers and is convinced they helped forge his winning mentality
Super Eagles defender Ola Aina has expressed his admiration for two former Chelsea managers, Jose Mourinho and Antonio Conte, Soccernet.ng reports.
Aina’s journey through the Chelsea ranks began under Mourinho’s tutelage, with his senior debut occurring in a pre-season friendly against AFC Wimbledon in 2014.
Following Mourinho’s departure in December 2015, Chelsea underwent managerial changes, with Steve Holland and Guus Hiddink temporarily at the helm until the arrival of Antonio Conte on July 1, 2016. It was Conte who granted Aina his professional and Premier League debut, leaving a lasting impact on the young full-back.
Aina did not hesitate to praise the coaching influence of both Mourinho and Conte, acknowledging their pivotal roles in instilling a winning mentality within him.
“Antonio was really good with me. Jose was good with me as well. They are both top coaches. They just want to win,” Aina said, as per Nottingham Post.
“I really got that mentality from both of them, of just wanting to win and being cut-throat. Both of them just don’t take any nonsense. You have to be on it every day. They demand a lot from the players.
“I didn’t really have one-to-ones with Jose in his office, but we’d have a few moments on the pitch. Maybe after training we’d have a quick chat. As a young boy at the time, it was really good having a coach speak to you like that and just try to improve you every day.
“They were all encouraging conversations, that’s what I can take from it. He wasn’t getting into me or ripping you to shreds. He was just encouraging me and telling me where I could improve.”
Years after parting ways with Chelsea, Aina found himself facing Mourinho again, this time in the Torino squad that traded tackles with AS Roma, now managed by the Portuguese tactician. Impressively, Aina noted that Mourinho’s courteous demeanour remained unchanged, reflecting the mutual respect between the two.
He started, “I saw him when Torino played Roma. It’s just the same energy! He’s a good guy, Jose. He always says hello.”
Aina recently made a move to Nottingham Forest on a free transfer after his contract with Torino expired, and he has already featured in three Premier League matches for the Reds.