The best football (soccer) coach in the world for the past 12 years said:
Envy is the biggest tribute that the shadows do to the man.
Where does the phrase come from?
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It isn't an English phrase, but since Jose Mourinho is familiar with many languages and cultures, maybe it is there somewhere. But if you are looking for the meaning of the quote, then here is what I found as the most logical explanation suited to the circumstances.
It's a metaphor at its finest, really
Shadows follow a man around, and all that a shadow can do is partially resemble the outline of the man, so it’s less than the man, hence the use of "envy", as in a shadow ‘wishes’ it could be what it’s shadowing. Now, compare ‘shadows’ to those that follow (i.e. in this case, the press/paparazzi), and "they", like the shadows, don’t measure up to the man, either, and "envy" who they are following around. I mean, it’s deep, and cuts right to the bone. He basically just told all of the press that they are less than he is, and run around wishing they could be him.
This was contributed by a user, Simon Gabriel, in one of the most popular Chelsea FC fan blogs. Here is the link. We Ain't Got No History