Luke Shaw had two-and-a-half years under Jose Mourinho at Manchester United.
And after opening up on their relationship yesterday, it was clearly the most difficult and bruising part of his career.
Shaw, 25, became the world’s most expensive teenager when he joined United seven years ago yesterday (SUN) in a £27m move and nothing during that time – even a horrific leg beak – has affected him quite as much as Mourinho.
England left-back Shaw would not have been the first player to have felt the full force of Mourinho’s unique style of man-management.
It has worked for some, backfired spectacularly for others and this tournament has shown that the battle lines are still drawn between Shaw and the former Manchester United manager.
What is difficult to fathom is that Shaw was terrific against Czech Republic, aggressive and attacking in a performance which surely warrants him keeping his place against Germany on Tuesday night.
But rather focus on the positives, rent-a-quote Mourinho sounded off about the negatives and even Shaw’s England team mates cannot understand why the Special One is still obsessed.
Shaw said: “I am trying to move on but, obviously, he can’t. He continuously talks about me, which I find quite strange. Even some of the lads have said: ‘what’s his problem?’ and ‘why does he keep talking?’
“What he says now is nothing compared to how it used to be. I don’t think any of you realise the two or three years I had with him and how bad it was then, what it was like then.
“I am being totally honest. I am so past it now. I have grown up a lot. The three years I had with him, I learnt a lot. I find it easy to ignore him now and even laugh about it. But it’s better just to ignore it.
“Look, like I said, his job is to comment on what he feels is right. His voice is obviously very big. He likes to talk a lot about me, as everyone has seen recently. But his voice is his own. He can say what he wants. I will focus on myself.”
Shaw admits he never saw eye to eye with Mourinho but still accepts he is a good a manager which seems more generous than his old boss.
“It’s different with different players. He likes some, he doesn’t like others,” said Shaw. “I think I fell into the category where he didn’t like me.
“I tried as hard as I could to get back on to his side but it never worked out, no matter what I did. There is no hiding that we didn’t get on. I think he was a brilliant manager but, you know, the past is the past. It is time to move on.”
Shaw has definitely moved on and, despite being in a fierce battle for the left back slot, he is happier with life and career and is thriving under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer for United and enjoying some of his best performances for England under Gareth Southgate.
Shaw said: “There have been a lot of ups and downs. Quite similar to my time at Manchester United. Obviously now things are looking much more on the up.
“I’ve stayed injury free and feel like that’s helped a lot. Everything is looking like it’s going in the right direction now and I want it to stay that way. I’ve got to keep my head down, keep working hard and keep trying to impress the coaches as much as I can.
“I’ve really enjoyed the group games. I think it’s been even more enjoyable the fact we’ve been able to play at Wembley, at home, with the crowd. It’s great seeing fans back.
“We didn’t have it much last season, so it’s been really good to hear them singing and cheering. The games have been very tough, every game is a tough game. When you put on that shirt for your country, it’s with immense pride and I’m very proud to be able to do it for your nation.”
Shaw is hoping to line-up against Germany at Wembley tomorrow when England face their old rivals for a place in the quarter finals and the dream of winning is driving them on.
Shaw added: “It would feel unbelievable. Not just for us as players, but for the whole nation – to see that would be brilliant.
“Of course what’s happened in the past is the past, but us as players, as a whole team, want to create our own story and you know what a perfect way to start that by hopefully beating Germany on Tuesday and setting a tone for the rest of the tournament.”