Jose Mourinho has had greater success in his glittering coaching career but Roma’s Europa Conference League triumph brought him to tears after the ‘Special One’ gave the Italian club their first major European title.
Europe’s third-tier club competition was derided by some, but for Mourinho the win over Feyenoord was just as important as his two Champions League triumphs with Porto 2004 and Inter Milan 2010.
Mourinho is the first manager to win all three major European competitions, having racked up five wins in five European finals.
“Football is about winning and Mourinho wins,” former Manchester United midfielder Owen Hargreaves told BT Sport.
“He’s a serial winner and he brought this Roma team to life.”
|Inter Milan||2009-10||Champions League|
|Manchester United||2016-17||European League|
|Roma||2021-22||Europe Conference League|
Box office Mourinho delivers again
This was the 26th trophy of Mourinho’s coaching career – 19 years after he oversaw Porto’s 2003 Uefa Cup win.
He was announced as Roma boss last May and given the task of building the club after a disappointing seventh-place finish in the 2020-21 Serie A.
“Mourinho said it wasn’t part of the plan [to win the trophy]. The plan was to build this team, it was the start of the project,” Joe Cole, who played under Mourinho at Chelsea, told BT Sport.
Roma’s run to the final was not entirely smooth as the Portuguese came under fire after scoring embarrassing 6-1 defeat by Bodo/Glimt in the group phase last October.
“The great thing about my career is that in addition to the Europa League with Manchester United, it’s also very, very, very special to do it with Porto, Inter and Roma,” said Mourinho.
“It’s one thing to win when everyone is expecting it when you’ve made the investments to win, but it’s quite another thing to win when something feels immortal that feels really special.
“That stays in the history of the Roma, but also in mine. I was only told Sir Alex [Ferguson] and Giovanni Trapattoni won trophies in three different decades. I feel a bit old, but it’s nice for my career.”
Mourinho created a spirit and togetherness that Roma have bounced back with, securing a first trophy in 14 years.
The hard work has only just begun, according to Cole.
“Roma went through a few managers, lost a direction and an identity. Jose loves the city but there is still a way to go,” he added.
“These scenes now, especially for the lads who have come through the ranks at Roma – you can’t go to this city without feeling the club.
“Football is a religion there and they will feel like heroes and be remembered but this is the start of the journey. Jose will be back in the office planning if they can try the Europa League and get closer to the titles. ” “
‘He is the best’
This was Mourinho’s first trophy since winning the Europa League with Manchester United in 2017.
Chris Smalling was part of the United side that beat Ajax in Stockholm five years ago and the 32-year-old defender put in an outstanding performance to help Roma win their first title since 2008.
“Even when I first joined Roma three years ago, it had been a long time since they had won a trophy,” Smalling said.
“So we knew how much it would mean for everyone at Roma to be lugging something.”
Smalling’s post-match interview with BT Sport on the pitch was crashed by team-mate and England striker Tammy Abraham.
“He’s the best,” said a jubilant Abraham before planting a kiss on his cheek.
Since joining Roma from Chelsea for £34million last August, Abraham has enjoyed such success that he ended his first season in Italy with 27 goals, a European trophy and a place in Gareth Southgate’s England squad.
“One of the things I said when I came was that I would help my team get to the final and win a trophy in my first season. I would like to thank my teammates for their excellent performances,” said Abraham.