Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho has lavished adulation on Michael Essien, claiming that the Ghanaian midfielder's work ethic made him fell in love with him during their time at Chelsea.
The Portuguese manager purchased the powerful enforcer in 2005 from French side Olympique Lyon and the duo went on to enjoy success at the London Club.
The pair have since kept in touch and in a latest interview, Mourinho described the Ghanaian as not just any player, but one he regards as his son.
“He [Essien] wasn’t my player; he was my son. I’m his white dad,” the Man United manager said on B4KO.
“The feeling is that [he is] more than a player for me. He was probably the one that took me to his home, to his real home.
“He took me to the place where he was born, to the streets where he was playing football as a kid, to meet the mum, to meet everyone that grew up with him in in Ghana. He made me fall in love with the country.”
Essien is currently a free agent, having been released by Indonesian club Persib Bandung earlier this year.