Ivan Cordoba on Jose Mourinho, Romelu Lukaku and John Stones

EXCLUSIVE: Ivan Cordoba on Inter Milan’s Treble-winners, how they compare to Man United in 1999, Jose Mourinho’s angry streak and why John Stones is ‘one of the best defenders in the world’

  • Ivan Cordoba has been reflecting on his trophy-laden 12 years with Inter Milan  
  • He spoke about his relationship with ‘angry’ Jose Mourinho and Inter’s Treble 
  • The Colombian is a fan of John Stones and sees him as one of the top defenders 
  • He has tipped countryman James Rodriguez for a move to the Premier League
  • Cordoba also feels Romelu Lukaku is showing Man United regret his sale to Inter 

Ivan Cordoba will go down in Inter Milan folklore after being involved in one of the most successful periods in the clubs’s history – a crucial cog in the famous Treble-winning side of 2009-10.

The Colombian spent 12 years with the Nerazzuri and scooped up every trophy available to him – including five successive Serie A titles, the Coppa Italia four times and a Champions League triumph too.

Cordoba, a powerful centre-back, won 15 honours overall during a stellar career in Italy before calling it a day in 2012, and now the 43-year-old has reflected on his life in the top flight. He spoke to Sportsmail about memories from his career, his relationship with Jose Mourinho and his thoughts on English football.  

Ivan Cordoba has taken a look back at his football career and his thoughts on the modern game

The Colombian was part of Jose Mourinho’s Champions League winning team of 2009-10

While Cordoba didn’t play in the Premier League, he follows English football closely

You’ve been watching the Premier League – what do you think of English defenders?

I follow the Premier League and I consider it to be one of the best leagues in the world. In England I really like John Stones of Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City. 

A very strong defender. He is a complete defender in everything he does. I think he is one of the best in the world.

You won the Treble with Inter under Jose Mourinho – matching the achievement by Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United in 1999. Which of the two teams was the best in your opinion?

It is difficult to separate them. Ferguson was different from Mourinho, surely we are all happy to be involved in this extraordinary UEFA record. 

The best prize was to see [former chairman Massimo] Moratti happy to have fought so hard to grow Inter and win. Mourinho gave his soul for us and for Inter.

Cordoba is a big fan of Man City defender John Stones and sees him as one of the world’s best

He said it was hard to separate the treble-winning teams of Inter under Mourinho, left, and Man United under Sir Alex Ferguson, right

James Rodriguez looks set to be leaving Real Madrid and there is a strong interest from Arsenal and Everton. Is the Premier League the right choice?

James Rodriguez is the best player for us Colombians. It depends on him – he has everything he needs to do well. I wish James would go to England because there are so many interesting options for him. 

James is already at one of the best teams in Real Madrid, but the Premier League would be a great destination. Those who buy him will make an excellent choice. Selfishly, I hope to see him in Italy at my Inter. I hope that one day he can replace me as a Colombian footballer at the San Siro.

Cordoba, left, spent 12 years at Inter, playing alongside Wesley Sneijder and Javier Zanetti (R)

He has tipped James Rodriguez for a move to England, but would love him to sign for Inter

He says Inter made two ‘big purchases’ in signing Ashley Young (L) and Christian Eriksen (R)

Some big names have left the Premier League for Inter Milan in the past – including Paul Ince. What do you think of the recent arrivals Ashley Young and Christian Eriksen? 

Eriksen and Young are excellent players and will give determination and strength to Inter. I am happy that they chose Inter. Eriksen comes from Tottenham, a wonderful team, and Young was a symbol of Manchester United. Inter made two big purchases.

Should Manchester United regret letting Romelu Lukaku go?

Lukaku is an extraordinary player. Manchester United did not understand the player’s potential and his last season was bad for him. In my opinion Lukaku is proving everyone to be a champion. 

He is determined and the Premier League has improved him a lot. I met him: he is a positive leader in the changing rooms. It’s a shame that Manchester United sold him, but I’m happy that Inter bought him. Antonio Conte has been fundamental to his form at Inter.

Romelu Lukaku was misunderstood at Man United and is flourishing at Inter, says Cordoba

The 43-year-old admitted Mourinho was prone to a bad temper while boss of the Nerazzurri

You’ve worked under Jose Mourinho, how angry can he get in the dressing room?

Tottenham players have already learned about him. When he gets angry, Mourinho kicks everything in front of his feet. After a game against Fiorentina he entered the dressing room and kicked a bag with an ice container. 

He fell and got up immediately. Even today when I hear him on the phone I ask him if his butt hurts from the fall! 

What do you think of your countryman Davinson Sanchez and could he flourish under Mourinho? 

He is fast and has a lot of physique. I really like it and it has a great physical impact. In the national team he is highly esteemed, but I hope he will improve a lot. He could be one of the strongest and I have great respect for him.

Cordoba has high hopes for Davinson Sanchez (R) and feels he could be ‘one of the strongest’

The former centre-back was himself an imposing figure in the heart of Inter Milan’s defence

Would you be able to jump as high as Cristiano Ronaldo to stop him scoring a header?

I don’t know if I would have been able to get a header like Cristiano Ronaldo to stop him scoring. I would have pushed more with the body but he reached 2.58m -superb! 

I played 455 matches and scored 19 goals with Inter. I scored many thanks to my headers. It was the quality that brought me to Europe. I was very fast and this made Mourinho very happy.

He admits he would be second best going up to challenge Cristiano Ronaldo for a header

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