‘It could take Jose Mourinho to a new level’ – What a Roma win could mean in Europa Conference League final
In this edition of Inside Europe, Pete Sharland teams up with Stefano Fonsato from Eurosport Italy to look at the Europa Conference League final between AS Roma and Feyenoord, specifically the former. What would a Roma win mean? Not only for the club itself, but the fans, Italian football as a whole and of course, their manager Jose Mourinho.
In a matter of hours, Jose Mourinho will bid to create history.
You’ve probably read all about it by now (go and read the excellent Michael Hincks if you haven’t) but Mourinho could become the first person ever to win the Champions League, UEFA Cup/Europa League and Europa Conference League.
Putting aside the fact that the third competition only started existing this year, it’s still a testament to Mourinho’s longevity, for better or for worse.
Perhaps more importantly, it will represent the end of a long era of pain for Roma fans. Since the turn of millennium, the club have won just three major trophies, Serie A once in 2000-01 and the Coppa Italia twice in 2006-07 and 2007-08. In the club’s entire history they have just one European title, the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup which they won 1960-61.
In order to get everything we needed to know ahead of the final, we got in touch with Stefano Fonsato from Eurosport Italy.
“Roma's supporters are very excited, you have to consider that,” says Fonsato. “In addition to their normal - very warm – support of their team, they could live their first European triumph since 1961. They lost the European Cup final in 1984 against Liverpool (at their own Stadio Olimpico) and the UEFA Cup final in 1991 against Inter, when Italian football dominated in Europe.
“It’s worth stating this: in Italy - like a big part of Europe (remember Brendan Rodgers words about Conference League?) - this competition has yet to find the right recognition. It seems like the old Cup Winners' Cup but without the same importance, yet.”
So could a win change this?
The culture around Italian football and Europe has been very interesting. After some years of financial mis-management most of Italy’s club lost interest in European football (bar Juventus’ obsession with the Champions League) with most teams preferring to focus on the league.
Could this all change if Roma win?
Jose Mourinho, head coach of As Roma, looks on during the Serie A match between Torino Fc and As Roma. As Roma wins 3-0 over Torino Fc. (Photo by Marco Canoniero/LightRocket via Getty Images)
Image credit: Getty Images
“That's the crucial point,” says Fonsato.
“Italian football needs Mourinho to make a step forward. It's been over 20 years without a UEFA Cup/Europa League, that is too long, much too long. And I think that a big part of the Italian football problem of this era, (the struggles in Europe) have their issues in this very bad mentality, without a real sports culture. Roma could be an example, to end this.”
How would this change Mourinho’s Italian legacy if he win?
It might have been a surprise to some people to see such a vigorous reaction to Mourinho’s return to Italy, where his reputation isn’t tarnished in the way it is in England or Spain. But Fonsato thinks winning another European title with an Italian club would really elevate him.
“Nobody won an international trophy with Roma. For sure, for the Giallorossi fans, Jose could become like a saint. And yes, I think it could take him to a new level,” says Fonsato.