When coach Jose Mourinho rubbed his wet eyes again in ecstasy, the Romanian anthem “Grazie Roma” sang at the National Stadium in Tirana. The 4,000 Roma fans sang while intoxicated, some in the front row of the mass of fans even looked at the trophy presented to them by the football players. “We’re giving something back to our fans,” captain Lorenzo Pellegrini shouted into the television microphone. However, he did not mean the esteemed trophy. The club itself needed this for a somewhat empty cup display case.
It is Roma’s first European Championship since they won what was then called the “Trade Fair Cup” in 1961 and has no relevance today. For this great Italian club, the 1-0 victory in the final against Feyenoord was their first European victory.
“Roma is a big club that lacks big trophies,” Mourinho said before the final and he probably cried after that because he was moved by the idea that it was he who gave this club, this city, these long-awaited people who were allowed to do so. Give. For him personally, this was his fifth European victory and he was ready to add a letter to this record. “Winning with a team made to win is one thing, but doing it with teams like Porto, Inter and Roma is another – it makes you feel special,” he said. With his fifth European Cup title, he met Italian coach Giovanni Trapattoni on the all-time list.
No one was particularly looking forward to this new competition called the Conference League
When this new “Conference League” was introduced at the start of the season as the third European competition after the Champions League and European League, no one would have thought the winners would be crying out for affection later. This trophy was just a privilege for many smaller clubs that could never win the Europa League or the Champions League.
The final was awarded to Albania with modest expectations in a small stadium (21,690 spectators), while fans who traveled from Rome and Rotterdam could fill Barcelona’s Camp Nou, which was four times the size. There were riots in Tirana the night before the final.
Feyenoord dominated the match, but the only goal came from the clever Romans when Nicolo Zaniolo tapped into a cross from Austrian Gernot Trauner in Rotterdam in the 32nd minute. In the group stage, Feyenoord helped ensure that German representative Union Berlin missed the knockout stage. Next season, 1. FC Köln will be allowed to play in the Conference League. Then Rome and Rotterdam would not be there. They have qualified for the European League through their tournaments. You won’t be envious of the conference league winner anymore. You can’t get a Champions League ticket here.
Despite the defeat, the Rotterdam coach should be the winner. Arne Slot, 43, is rarely known internationally, but you just have to love tricky football. The Netherlands is a bus exporter. Erik ten Hag from champions Ajax joins Manchester United, Eindhoven II’s Roger Schmidt joins Benfica, and Feyenoord III’s Arn Sloot looks set to still be ready to compete. He formed the most offensive team in the Conference League with strikers Luis Sinistera (transfer tip!), Reiss Nelson (was at Hoffenheim) and Cyril Desires (ten goals, top scorer in the competition). In the final of all places, they did not score a goal, although the club would have liked to win another cup 20 years after winning the European Cup over Borussia Dortmund.
Rome’s victory was even more constructive. In 1984 they lost the National Championship final to Liverpool, in 1991 with Rudi Voller and Thomas Berthold in the UEFA Cup final against Inter with Jürgen Klinsmann, Lothar Matthaus and Andreas Premi and coach Trapattoni. This was his fourth European Cup, and his fifth in the 1993 UEFA Cup with Juventus Turin.
29 years later Trapattoni was arrested by “Mr. Titoli” Mourinho. The 59-year-old Portuguese crowned his international record after the European Cup (2003) and the Champions League (2004) with FC Porto, the Champions League with Inter (2010 against Bayern) and the European League with Manchester United (2017) with one title that you would not have thought It will make him cry. Of course, they always roll when the maestro is affected by his success. Now he is the first coach to win the current three trophies, the European Champions League and the Conference League.
Being aware of his own peculiarities, he was the first to take the podium after the victory and was awarded the medal by UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin. Roma only forgive him because he managed to raise the club to sixth place in Serie A. “This title goes down in the history of Rome,” said Mourinho – “and me!”