Cole is yet to turn out at Stamford Bridge since leaving Chelsea in 2010 and won't make tonight's meeting due to injury.
"I very much enjoyed working with Joe," Mourinho told chelseafc.com.
"Maybe I'm wrong - and Joe is the one that can say if I'm wrong or not - but my opinion is that with us he had the best time of his career. He had a difficult five or six months but after that I think he had the best three years of his career with Chelsea and as a consequence of that with England, because he was a regular player for England too.
"As a coach Joe is one of the examples you keep, and I keep a lot from my career, where you feel that we did something to make a player better. I like this because when you have players with talent but not other things, you can give them the other things. When the players have the other things but they don't have the talent, you cannot give them the talent.
"The way you train, the way you face competition, the responsibility to play in a collective situation and be ready to play in different positions and in different tactical systems - these are the things we managers can give them. Joe was a very talented player at that time and I think we helped him to be better."
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