José Mourinho on Roma's UEFA Europa Conference League final, Sir Alex Ferguson and his enduring passion for football
Wednesday, 25 May 2022
Interview: "I cannot tell you when I am going to stop because I cannot visualise it," says José Mourinho as he looks to win a fifth major continental trophy when Roma face Feyenoord in the first UEFA Europa Conference League final.
Article top media content
At 59, José Mourinho has won almost everything there is to win in club football, and he can complete a set of current UEFA club trophies if his Roma side beat Feyenoord in the first Europa Conference League final in Tirana on 25 May.
In addition to his many domestic titles, the Portuguese coach won the UEFA Cup and UEFA Champions League in successive seasons with Porto, before clinching the 2009/10 UEFA Champions League title at Inter Milan, and the 2016/17 UEFA Europa League crown with Manchester United.
Mourinho has yet to lose in a major European final and, as he tells UEFA.com, his hunger for success remains as strong as ever.
On final opponents Feyenoord
They had 14 games like us and overcame difficult opponents. [For example], the semi-final with Marseille – a team that has European history and the Vélodrome, which is one of the most fascinating and difficult places to play as an opponent. You can only give them credit.
Finals are 50-50, but we will do our best to make it 51-49. That has to be during the game, not before. The work leading up to the final over several months is the basis for those 90 or 120 minutes. It's [the players'] day; we are just there to give a little help. I have been lucky so far [in winning all of my European finals]: my players have turned up in the finals we have reached. In the moment of truth, they have always been there.
On the UEFA Europa Conference League
I am a manager with history and Roma are a big club. I felt a little bit of responsibility to try and make [the first edition of the tournament] a great competition. So, little by little, we went on to achieve our ambition of going as far as possible. Then, very proudly we saw that the two semi-finals were played in packed stadiums, with [a total of] 170,000 fans in attendance.
The Conference League is our Champions League. That's the level we're at, the competition we're playing in. The club hasn't reached [an occasion] like this for a long time.
On the prospect of winning Roma's first UEFA club trophy
We have to forget about [the fact that we could win our first UEFA trophy]. For me, you need to treat a final as an individual game that brings its own pressure, tension and sense of responsibility. We just need to think about the final and the opposition we're up against, and we'll forget all about Roma's history, about how wonderful it would be for the city, the club and all of us if we were to win the game.
On being the first coach to reach all four current UEFA club finals
If I go on to win four European competitions with four different clubs, I'll never forget the first one, which was the [1996/97 UEFA] Cup Winners' Cup as assistant coach to the late and great Bobby Robson at Barcelona. Every time I sat beside him [in the dugout], I felt very proud.
Does each new achievement mean more than the previous one? It does. Winning the first one can come about by being in the right place at the right time. Winning the second time is tougher than the first time, and winning the third time is tougher than the second time. It's one thing to achieve success and win in a fixed amount of time, it's another thing to achieve success and win continuously throughout your career.
On his continued passion for the game
It was Manchester United vs Real Madrid [in the round of 16 of the 2012/13 Champions League] and, before the game, [Sir Alex Ferguson] invited me to his office, which later became my own office, and I asked him: "What is it like, boss? Does it change? Does it change over the years?" He said: "Forget about it. Nothing changes. It's the same up until the very last day."
That is why I keep saying I cannot believe I am 59 years old. I cannot believe I have a 21 or 22-year career as a head coach. I cannot tell you when I am going to stop because I cannot visualise it. The passion doesn't change.