JOSE MOURINHO would be Barcelona boss — but for his arrogance, aggression and failure to listen.
The Special One was snubbed after an interview in 2008 as Barca went for rookie Pep Guardiola.
And SunSport can reveal for the first time WHY he is tonight leading Real Madrid and not their deadly rivals towards a Spanish Cup final.
A sensational new book, 'Barca: The Making of the Greatest Team in the World', tells how Mourinho almost landed the job after dazzling executives in a secret meeting.
It could have changed the outlook of European football.
But with former Barca vice-president Marc Ingla and technical director Txiki Begiristain ready to hand over a contract — Mourinho blew his chance.
Ingla said: "By January 2008 we had amazing pressure from his agent to see him.
"He was saying, 'Jose knows the club, he's prepared, he understands the style'. He was pitching relentlessly.
"Txiki and I chose Lisbon for a secret meeting.
We had already approached Pep, who was half a season into his first coaching job at Barca B, to see if he was interested. But it was vital to test him against Mourinho."
Chelsea sacked Mourinho in September 2007 but Ingla and Begiristain were wowed by his brilliant pitch.
He also worked at the Nou Camp as an interpreter under Bobby Robson in the 1990s.
But Ingla added: "In considering him we were also dealing with the Mourinho brand.
"I said to him, 'Jose, the problem we have is you push the media too much. There is too much aggression.
"I added, 'the coach is the image of the club, you cannot start fires everywhere, this is against our style'.
"Mourinho answered, 'I know, that is my style. I won't change'. He was renowned to be No 1 but wouldn't listen."
Vice-president Ferran Soriano described the mood as Ingla and Begiristain returned from Portugal. He said: "They spent three hours with him, both said he wasn't our guy.
"Marc said Mourinho spoke 90 per cent of the time and didn't listen. He said, 'I just don't like him'."
The locals wanted Mourinho — but Barca went to talk to former player Guardiola.
Ingla added: "At the end of our chat Pep said, 'Why don't you hire Mourinho? It'd be easier for you'.
"I replied, 'No, there are some criteria which that guy doesn't fit and one is attitude. He is totally unsuitable for us'."
Mourinho went on to win the Champions League with Inter Milan — beating Barca in the semi-final.
But the long game is very much with Barcelona.
Since Mourinho joined Real in 2010, there have been 66 bookings and nine red cards in nine spiteful El Clasicos.
The bitterness returns today as Madrid defend their Spanish Cup — won against Barca last April — when they go to the Camp Nou 2-1 down from their quarter-final first leg.
But Barca have won 13 out of 16 trophies since they appointed Guardiola and lost only one of nine meetings with Mourinho's Madrid. Mourinho held a tense news conference yesterday with speculation rife that he will leave Madrid in the summer.