Varane lauds Mourinho influence
Real Madrid defender Raphael Varane has called coach Jose Mourinho "a second father", with the Portuguese playing a fundamental role in his meteoric rise.
Mourinho has frequently stated his admiration for Varane, 19, who is beginning to carve a niche for himself in the Madrid first team.
The teenage centre-back leapt into Mourinho's arms after scoring against Barcelona in last week's Copa del Rey semi-final, and told French TV channel TF1: "Jose Mourinho is like a second father to me.
"In football terms, he has significant input. He shows his support and his faith in me. He finds the right words to give you the peace of mind to be able to improve, which is important. We often talk. He's really close to his players."
Although tipped for great things since coming through the ranks at Lens in his native northern France, Varane's progress from being a promising part of a side relegated to the French second tier to a first-team regular at the Santiago Bernabeu in two years has been remarkable.
He said he hoped to continue his progress by being called up for France's World Cup qualifiers against Georgia and Spain later this month.
Les Bleus' boss Didier Deschamps was in the Spanish capital on Saturday to see the defender produce a mature performance against Barcelona in Madrid's Clasico triumph.
"He told me to keep my head on my shoulders and keep playing like that," Varane said.
But he added: "I'm just the same person I've always been. I try to keep things in perspective. I'm playing more than last season. You have to show your worth on the pitch, there's no hiding.
"I really like my nickname: Mr Clean. That's my style."