Jose Mourinho’s First Season At Roma Has Already Made Him A Legend, And Better Times Await
If any of the Roma players had put their ear to the sky at the end of the UEFA EFA +1.1% Conference League final win over Feyenoord in Tirana, they likely could’ve heard the explosion of noise some 600km away in the Italian capital.
50,000 Romanisti travelled to the Stadio Olimpico to watch their side on maxi-screens inside the stadium, while thousands of others packed into bars and pubs throughout the Eternal City.
Roma hadn’t been to a European final in 31 years, since losing to Inter in the-then two-legged version of the UEFA Cup.
After reaching the Champions League semi final in 2018 and the Europa League semi final a year ago, they had now gone one better and made it to a final, and the yellow-and-red half of the city wanted, better yet needed, a victory.
Roma had never won a European trophy, and have had to endure taunts from Laziale for decades, who won the very last edition of the old Cup Winners’ Cup in 1999.
And so when Istvan Kovacs blew the full time whistle in the 95th minute, the euphoria that erupted, both in the Air Tirana Stadium and in Rome, had been 60 years in the making.
Roma had finally won a European trophy. Moreover, it was Serie A’s first European trophy for 12 years, since Jose Mourinho’s Inter won the Champions League in 2010.
Italian football, it seems, can only conquer Europe when managed by a Mourinho side.
And for the man himself, it was his fifth European trophy, and has won every European trophy he’s been able to win (except for the European Super Cup).
Mourinho was visibly emotional upon the full time whistle, a mixture of relief and happiness at winning a competition he’d decided to put all his eggs into after it was evident that Roma wouldn’t finish in the top four this season.
Before the Conference League final, it was debatable if Mourinho had improved Roma compared to last season under Paulo Fonseca. Roma finished one place higher with Mourinho than under Fonseca, but only by a single point.
Moreover, Mourinho’s record against the biggest sides this season was similar to Fonseca’s, with Mourinho winning three games against the ‘seven sisters’ to Fonseca’s two.