Mourinho never lost European final, but finds Sevilla favorite ‘based on history’
It’s the first of four European finals in the next week and a half: AS Roma against Sevilla, with Europa League wins at stake. Whatever happens in the final match in Budapest on Wednesday night: a special record will be cut anyway.
Sevilla has so far played six Europa League finals (two of them when the tournament was still called UEFA Cup) and won all six. Roma coach José Mourinho also has a perfect track record in European finals: he coached five and did not lose one.
‘My kids are hungry’
So one of those two series is coming to an end. The usually confident Mourinho, who won his first major European trophy in 2003 with FC Porto, dove into the underdog role the day before the final.
“For Sevilla, playing a Europa League final is almost normal. For us it’s very special,” he said at the press conference. “We want to make history. Although history doesn’t matter, Sevilla are favorites based on that. We respect that.”
Mourinho: ‘For Sevilla such a final is normal, for us it is special’
Mourinho: “I have a lot of experience, but so do Sevilla’s players. Our team has been playing together for two years now and my ‘kids’ are hungry to do something special.”
From ‘disappointment’ to ‘great moment’
Over the past two decades, the 60-year-old Portuguese was undeniably one of the leading coaches in European soccer. By his own admission, he “became a better coach and a better person” during that period. In any case, he was talked about with regularity.
In 2013, for example, when he was appointed to Chelsea, he made disparaging remarks about the Europa League. The London club had won that prize just before with his predecessor Rafael Benítez. “If I won that tournament, it would be a big disappointment. After all, I don’t want to play in it,” Mourinho remarked at the time.
Now he wants nothing more than to beat Sevilla. Because, Mourinho already warned the Spanish opponent: nothing has changed about his thirst for success.
“The desire for big moments like this final is the feeling I want to convey to my players. If you lose motivation, you have to stop. My motivation is still growing every day.”
Sevilla coach is honored
“He is one of the all-time greats,” Sevilla coach José Luis Mendilibar spoke of Mourinho with admiration. “When you see where all he has worked and all he has won, you get scared.”
The two coaches already spoke briefly on Tuesday night at the Puskás Stadium, where the final will be played. Mendilibar: “I said to him that I am honored to compete against him in a European final. He has coached many finals, for me it is the first time.”
Last season, Mourinho captured the Conference League with AS Roma at the expense of Feyenoord. Partly due to the European successes, he has been linked with a departure from the Italian club.
“I have spoken to my captains. They have asked me to stay. They won’t tell you, but they know exactly what I think,” Mourinho told reporters, before reporting that he has not yet spoken to other clubs. “I only think about tomorrow and what we want to perform on the pitch.”