DAVIDE Santon says he’ll always be grateful to Jose Mourinho.
But the Newcastle United defender’s hoping Mourinho’s first visit to St James’s Park in five and a half years ends in defeat for his Chelsea team.
Santon played under Mourinho at his former club Inter Milan.
And the 22-year-old credits the Portuguese with having a huge influence on his career.
Mourinho returned to Stamford Bridge this summer, and his second-placed team are well placed in the Premier League.
Newcastle entertain Chelsea at St James’s Park this afternoon.
And Santon, expected to return to the United starting XI after sitting out the club’s midweek Capital One Cup defeat to Manchester City, is looking forward to seeing him on Tyneside.
“I always said he was an amazing manager,” said Santon.
“It is good for the Premier League that he’s back.
“He gave me the chance to play, and I always have to say thank you to him, but I will be trying to play against him and beat him now.”
Mourinho gave Santon his Inter debut shortly after the left back’s 18th birthday, and the Italy international went on to make 13 appearances in the club’s title-winning Serie A season in 2008/09.
Speaking this summer, Mourinho said: “At 17-years-old, everybody was saying that Davide would become for Inter what Paolo Maldini was for AC Milan.”
Santon joined United in the summer of 2011, and he remains hopeful that the club can again challenge for a European place.
He said: “We must think about finishing in the top half of the table, not thinking about trying to stay out of going into the Championship every year.”