Former Inter forward Wesley Sneijder discussed his time with the Nerazzurri, the management of coach Jose Mourinho and former teammate Mario Balotelli in his autobiography, with excerpts being noted by English tabloid the Daily Mirror.
“Mourinho made his own rules and the players loved that fact. He knew exactly how to manage each of us. He told us, ‘I give you more freedom than you’re used to and in return I have a better team.’
“During the matches he wanted the most from us, but off the pitch we had different freedoms, wine, cigarettes. I’m sure he knew what we were doing.”
The Dutchman also highlighted how the Portuguese coach let the players wear whatever they liked, rather than tying them to wearing a sponsors clothing.
“There was also freedom in choosing our outfits. We had a sponsor who provided us with the elegant clothes, but Mou told us that we were also free not to wear them.
“For him it was important to train hard, concentrate and have fun. So, we all wore overalls or jeans and everyone had a polo shirt in a different colour. It was so much fun, nobody at Inter said anything to Mou.”
He then moved onto detailing a story about Mario Balotelli and Mourinho.
“Mourinho always protected us, but it was better not to make him angry, as Balotelli understood. He was young and thought he understood everything from life.
“In the period when Mou didn’t let him play much, Mario came into my room one night while I was with other players, announcing that he wanted to leave the training camp, ‘The coach doesn’t take me seriously. I want to play more,’ he said.”
Sneijder highlighted how Mourinho punished Balotelli for his outburst, rather than simply forgiving the hotheaded Italian striker.
“Mourinho later told us that Mario would only be welcome again if he apologized to the team and to him. Mario did exactly that and everything seemed to be back in place.
“Only, during the Champions League final, Mou told Mario to warm up for 45 minutes, but in the end, Marco Materazzi came on and he only warmed up for five minutes. But I repeat, Mou had rules of his own.”
Finally, the Dutchman touched on how the Portuguese coach allowed the players to see their family when it was possible, in order to better motivate the squad.
“He did unexpected things. When Maicon had two games suspended, he told him he was a fool and sent him to visit his family in Brazil. He did the same with me, I was alone in Milan and my girlfriend was in Amsterdam.
“When he found out, he told me to take the first flight and visit her for a few days. He told me he wanted me back by Friday and I told him we have a game on Saturday. That’s right. And you’ll give your soul for me on the field. Me and Mou were one.”
Sneijder spent four years of his career with the Nerazzurri, from 2009 to 2013. The player was a key part of the club’s historic Treble winning squad, the same season he helped the Netherlands to the World Cup final.