Tottenham Hotspur target Raphael Varane has said Jose Mourinho is to thank for his rise to a global star as the current Spurs boss “saw things in me” when he signed him for Real Madrid.
France defender Varane made the comments in an interview with Onze Mundial and spoke about arriving at Real Madrid at just 18 years of age from Lens.
The 26-year-old said Mourinho and later Zinedine Zidane “are the ones who saw things in me”. Mourinho was managing Real Madrid when Varane arrived at the club and the central defender has gone on to make 296 appearances for Los Blancos.
He said: “At Real Madrid, every day there are a lot of newspapers, television shows, radio programmes. What happens in Madrid sometimes has repercussions around the world. It is global. The pressure inside the club is huge.
“Not all players can live with that. I have seen players who couldn’t put up with it because sometimes it gets into their heads.”
The defender explained that in a training session with Cristiano Ronaldo early in his career he felt he had to put down a marker. He said the Portuguese star said “Varane, in the middle” and the Frenchman responded “I’m not Varane, I’m Rafa.”
He explained: “I didn’t see it as a lack of respect, I’m very polite and even fun in the changing room. But I’m also shy. In any case, when there are difficult moments or you have to show personality, you can count on me. The players who have known me for a while already know that.
“It wasn’t a question of lacking respect but of ‘he doesn’t see me as much, he doesn’t really regard me’. Therefore it was a way to say: ‘I’m here too, I also have a name.”
Speaking about Ronaldo, Varane said: “He’s great, humanly and in football, I don’t even have the words. He achieved something extraordinary: he made great feats normal, banal. There are no words to explain how crazy it is, he’s huge, extraordinary. He taught me a lot and he also surprised me. How many times did I say to myself ‘wow, how amazing’?”