Louis van Gaal: Jose Mourinho became special by himself

Jose Mourinho and Louis van Gaal
In three years together at Barcelona, Van Gaal and his coach Mourinho won two Primera Division titles and the Copa del Rey

Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal insists he has not played a major role in Jose Mourinho becoming one of the world's most successful managers.

The Chelsea boss, who worked under Van Gaal at Barcelona, often credits much of his success to the Dutchman and his other mentor Bobby Robson

"He talks about me and Bobby Robson and I appreciate that, but you always do it by yourself," Van Gaal said.

The pair meet at Old Trafford on Sunday when United face Chelsea.

They first crossed paths 17 years ago when the Van Gaal offered Mourinho, then 34, a position on his coaching staff at the Nou Camp.

BBC Match of the Day commentator Steve Wilson on Sunday's match
"Both sides have improved on last season, but with Wayne Rooney suspended, and especially if Diego Costa plays, I expect Mourinho to be consoling his old boss at full-time with a generous smile."

Mourinho, 51, has since forged a hugely successful management career of his own, which has yielded 20 trophies to date.

"He's such a wonderful coach," said Van Gaal, 63. "And to see that he's been a champion in different countries is fantastic.

"He's very special but he is very special for me because we've continued our relationship, which in the football world is not always normal. That's nice."

Jose Mourinho and Louis van Gaal
Louis van Gaal and Jose Mourinho embrace after the Champions League final in 2010, won by Mourinho's Inter Milan

The pair have been in opposing dug-outs only once before in a competitive fixture - the 2010 Champions League final, won by Mourinho's Inter against Van Gaal's Bayern.

And Van Gaal will have it all to do if he is to gain revenge on Sunday, with Chelsea top and unbeaten, and already 10 points clear of the Red Devils.

As for Mourinho, he said Van Gaal was now "an opponent" but made it clear that he still holds the United boss in the highest of regard.

"Everybody knows the respect I have for him. I never hide the respect, the relationship and the fact he was an important influence in my career," he said.

"Don't make me speak for half an hour about him. He knows what I feel about him."