Pepe believes Real Madrid were “hated” during the spell in which they were coached by Jose Mourinho.
Mourinho spent three years in charge of Madrid between 2010 and 2013, during which he became embroiled in feuds with Barcelona boss Pep Guardiola as well his club captain Iker Casillas.
Pepe feels such conduct from the Portuguese led to opposition fans from across Spain having little respect for the Madrid players when they took to the pitch each week.
“Under Mourinho, people hated us when we got out there,” Pepe told Cadena Ser. “It lasted three years and thank God it went very quick. Things changed when [Carlo] Ancelotti came in, you could see people started treating us different again.”
While Pepe endured a difficult relationship with Mourinho, the defender says he is enjoying playing under current Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane.
“What happened with Mourinho is in the past now,” he said. “I was strong and got over it. I maintained my high level at Madrid.
“Mourinho and Zidane are very different, one could say they are opposites. But it’s not like one is bad and the other is good.
“Mourinho has a lot of experience as a coach, with great clubs and players. Zidane has only just started in La Liga last year. But he has played at the highest level himself and always knows what’s expected on the pitch.
“Zidane has been a player and knows what we think. He had a brilliant career at Madrid, so understands what the pressure is like here.”