Football Features

José Mourinho etches name into the record books as Roma break European duck

By Mohamed Moallim

Published: 22:31, 25 May 2022

José Mourinho wrote his name into the record books after Roma became inaugural UEFA Europa Conference League winners this evening.

The Giallorossi outlasted Feyenoord in Tirana and by doing so celebrated their first major piece of European silverware. Nicolò Zaniolo, who joined from Inter Milan in 2018, netted the all-important goal to separate both sides. Roma’s success was naturally Mourinho’s; he now joins an exclusive group of managers to win three different Uefa-sanctioned club competitions.

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Before the Cup Winners’ Cup was discontinued in 1999 it was possible for a coach to complete a unique treble. However across a 39-year eligibility period only two were able to achieve this impressive feat. Giovanni Trapattoni did so with Juventus while Udo Lattek managed to win each with a different club. Mourinho falls into the Lattek category though his first Champions League and UEFA Cup titles did come while leading FC Porto.

Inter, Manchester United and now Roma have since benefited from Mourinho’s presence meaning he becomes the first coach to win a European trophy with four different clubs. The much-travelled Portuguese tactician also remains unbeaten in European finals which he first got a taste of while shadowing Sir Bobby Robson at Barcelona. It was during his assistant coaching stint at Barça where Mourinho won his first European medal, the Cup Winners’ Cup, when the Catalan giants overcame Paris Saint-Germain at Feyenoord’s home stadium.

Mourinho could, technically, say he’s lifted all four of Uefa’s main titles but this one might be the sweetest of the lot. A club starved of success has won their first Uefa-sanctioned competition under his auspices while he’ll go down as the competition’s first winning manager. In one season Mourinho’s name will sit alongside Nils Liedholm and Fabio Capello as Roma’s most important coaches. As for the Rotterdammers they’ll be kicking themselves.

Very few expected Feyenoord to come this far especially after being drawn against Ligue 1 runners-up Marseille in the previous round. Arne Slot’s men came out of the gates swinging, pinning Roma back with their ferocious counter-pressing, but they couldn’t penetrate Roma’s steely defence marshalled by Chris Smalling who must be wondering if an England recall is on the horizon. Feyenoord’s best chances were reserved for outside the box or from set-pieces. Cyriel Dessers, the competition’s leading scorer, huffed and puffed but couldn’t add to his tally.

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It was yet another Eredivisie side Mourinho has mastered on this stage while simultaneously Serie A saw a 12-year drought come to an end. Before tonight Italy’s last European title came when Inter completed an unprecedented treble at Bayern Munich and Louis van Gaal’s expense. Giovanni van Bronckhorst last week and Slot today had the chance to become the 13th different Dutch manager to claim European silverware. Dick Advocaat, who joined in 2008, remains the latest member of this exclusive group. Mourinho has since denied Peter Bosz — when Man Utd defeated Ajax in the 2017 Europa League final — and now Slot who should nonetheless be pleased with Feyenoord’s progress this season.

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