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The Portuguese surprised many by speaking at the club's press conference on Tuesday and showed plenty of respect to his rival who will be taking some time away from the game

Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho has sent his best wishes to Barcelona counterpart Pep Guardiola after the Catalan trainer revealed he will step down from his position at the end of the season.

Guardiola announced last Friday that he would be bringing his four-year stay at the helm of Barca to an end in the summer due to suffering from physical and mental stress, with his assistant Tito Vilanova set to replace him.

Mourinho recently claimed he would not conduct a domestic press conference for the rest of the season but surprisingly turned up to address the media on Tuesday, instead of his usual replacement, assistant coach Aitor Karanka.

The trainer's spokesperson Eladio Parames confirmed that Mourinho decided to talk to the media because Tuesday is International Worker's Day.

"I don't have to comment on Guardiola. It's his decision. When they fire us, we deserve solidarity, and in many cases the clubs deserve criticism, but Guardiola's case is completely different," Mourinho said.

"It's a personal decision, he knows it. He has to comment on it, say what makes him happiest at any moment. That's why there is no feeling of going against anybody, or of feeling sorry for anybody. The most important thing is that he is happy with his decision.

"I have been a coach for 12 years, and me being worn out will be in June when there are no games or training sessions. But everyone is different, and you have to accept that. I hope Guardiola enjoys his time off and I send him a big hug from here."

When quizzed further on Barcelona's decision to bring in Vilanova to replace the outgoing Catalan boss, the ex-Chelsea man was keen to focus solely on his own team.

"Real Madrid is Real Madrid. They [Barcelona] make their decisions. My decision to continue here has nothing to do with who is coach of the other team. Real moves on and so do Barcelona. I do not believe that Barca don't have people with the capacity to decide [who should be in charge]," he added.

"If they have decided Vilanova should be the next coach, I'm sure it's been done with conviction. From our point of view, we respect what they do as always as we know that in the coming seasons, they will be our main rivals in Spain although the rest are getting better. We cannot wish them luck because they are a direct rival, but nothing really changes for us."

Mourinho also revealed that winning titles in the 'big three' leagues is very special to him as he sits on the verge of a first Primera Division triumph with Los Blancos.

The Spanish giants will be crowned champions of Spain if they can defeat Athletic Bilbao on Wednesday, regardless of Barcelona's result versus Malaga, which would add to titles previously won with Chelsea and Inter, along with trophies at Porto.

The 49-year-old was keen to talk about one of his biggest goals in football, along with displaying the confidence we have all become accustomed to when discussing future trophies.

"Until the title is won, it's hypothetical. Normally I'm calm. It will not be my last league title, there will be another opportunity to celebrate again so I'm not a man of great celebrations. But I've never hidden that one of my goals was to win the three major leagues in world football and if I do, I'm sure it will be a moment of great joy for me," he added.

Reports emerged earlier in the week that Mourinho was keen for the club to replace sporting director Zinedine Zidane at the end of the current campaign but he moved to vehemently deny such talk.

"It's false that I don't want to continue working with Zidane. That's why we said nothing, because we would be denying things constantly. But now you ask me, the answer is easy: it's a lie."

The former Inter boss then moved on to discuss Wednesday's opponents, Athletic Bilbao, who have enjoyed a superb campaign themselves and Mourinho was full of respect for Marcelo Bielsa's men.

"I love to play in Bilbao, It's not a sympathetic place for opponents but it's a great stadium which breathes football. Athletic play very well but we want to be crowned champions but they will want to avoid this, that's football. But we are delighted to be playing at San Mames," he stated.

"Athletic Bilbao have a very good team with good players and fresh legs. It will be a tough match, we will give our best knowing that we need three points from three games, but if we get the victory, the league will be finished. Let's therefore do it without pressure."

Starting last month and continuing for 10 weeks, Goal.com is publishing exclusive extracts from Luca Caioli's new book, Ronaldo: The Obsession for Perfection. The sixth extract, published on Friday, looks at his display for Man Utd in the 2008 Champions League final against Chelsea in Moscow, including the Portuguese's missed penalty in the shoot-out. Don't miss it!   

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