Jose Mourinho has done it again. Roma progressed to the 2022-23 Europa League final with a 1-0 aggregate victory over Bayer Leverkusen in the last four, and will face off against competition specialists Sevilla for the trophy at the Puskas Arena in Budapest on Wednesday.
Sevilla will be favourites, but it would be a mistake to write off Roma under Mourinho, who has won all five of his previous European finals. The 60-year-old is a serial winner, and his drive for silverware remains as strong as ever.
Never one for modesty, Mourinho has even claimed he's a more complete coach now than ever before. The general consensus among supporters and pundits is that Mourinho is something of a dinosaur in the modern era, but he believes he's ageing like a fine wine.
"Better coach, better person, same DNA. The DNA is motivation, is happiness. Desire for these big moments, and these are the feelings that I try to pass to the boys," the Roma boss said last week. "I think you can be better and better with your experiences... I think your brain becomes sharper and the accumulation of knowledge is better with the years. I think you stop when you lose motivation, my motivation grows up every day... I think I am better now."
If Roma triumph in Budapest, Mourinho's legend will grow once again. But where would it rank on his list of greatest European achievements? GOAL looks at the competition below...
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#5 Europa Conference League (Roma, 2021-22)
Mourinho became the first man to reach a UEFA final with four different clubs by taking Roma through to the inaugural Conference League showpiece in 2022. The Italian club had never previously lifted a European title, but that all changed when they came up against Feyenoord at the Arena Kombetare.
In truth, the final was a forgettable affair, with Roma edging the contest 1-0 thanks to a skillful prodded finish from Nicolo Zaniolo in the 32nd minute. But that didn't matter to Giallorossi supporters, who had not seen their team win a major trophy since 2008.
Mourinho was moved to tears after the final whistle, which came as a surprise to some given the Conference League's status as a third-tier prize. "It's because I give everything... People aren't stupid," he has said when explaining his emotional outburst. "In the Roma case, I think it is above winning or European finals. I think they feel like I wore the shirt and I fight for them every day."
Winning the competition seemed unlikely when Roma lost 6-1 to Bodo/Glimt in the group stage, but they recovered admirably to top their pool ahead of the Norwegian side. Mourinho's men then beat Vitesse in the last 16 before gaining revenge over Bodo/Glimt in the last eight and seeing off Leicester City in the semi-finals.
Roma had more star power than any of the opponents that they faced in the Conference League, but still had to show steely determination and discipline to get the job done. Mourinho instilled a winning mentality at a club that had been starved of success - and they would not be Europa League finalists now were it not for their special night in Albania 12 months ago.
#4 Europa League (Man Utd, 2016-17)
Mourinho's two-and-a-half-year tenure as Manchester United head coach was very much a mixed bag. His pragmatic style of play didn't go down well with fans, and his eventual departure came after he had publicly criticised a number of his own players.
However, he did become the first manager in the club's history to deliver two major titles in his debut season. United won the Carabao Cup in 2016-17 before reaching their first-ever Europa League final.
It has to be said that they had a favourable run. They finished as runners-up behind Fenerbahce in their group, and thrashed Saint-Etienne 4-0 in the first knockout stage. United then edged past Rostov, Anderlecht and Celta Vigo by just a single goal on aggregate in each respective tie to set up a final clash against a young Ajax outfit in Stockholm. And Mourinho made sure that experience was the deciding factor.
Ajax had almost triple the number of shots United managed and bossed possession, but fell to a 2-0 defeat as Paul Pogba and Henrikh Mkhitaryan both got on the scoresheet. They executed Mourinho's game plan perfectly.
“A victory of the pragmatism, a victory of the humble people, a victory of the people who respect the opponents, a victory of the people who try to stop the opponents and exploit their weaknesses," the manager said after the game.
A true Mourinho masterclass.
#3 UEFA Cup (Porto, 2002-03)
Mourinho began his coaching career as an assistant at Barcelona for both Sir Bobby Robson and Louis van Gaal, before taking in brief stints in charge of Benfica and Uniao de Leiria. He was more or less a complete unknown to the wider footballing world when he was appointed as Porto's new manager in January 2002.
Porto were fifth in the Primeira Liga upon his arrival at Estadio do Dragao, but he guided them to third and a spot in the UEFA Cup after overseeing a 15-match unbeaten run to end the season. Mourinho then vowed that he'd make Porto champions the following year.
He delivered on that promise in spectacular fashion, as Porto set a new points record on their way to winning the domestic crown ahead of Benfica. They also landed the Taca de Portugal and reached the UEFA Cup final to set up an unlikely treble.
Martin O'Neill's Celtic stood in their way of glory at Seville's Stadio Olympico, and the two teams played out a classic. Porto came out on top 3-2 after extra time, with Brazilian striker Derlei breaking Celtic hearts by scoring a 115th-minute winner.
Mourinho described it as "the most exciting football game I have ever been in" during an interview with UEFA some years later. He added: "In terms of living with tension, intensity, with emotion raised to the limit, that game against Celtic beat them all."
The Portuguese tactician would go on to bigger and better things, but the victory in Seville was pivotal in giving him the platform.
#2 Champions League (Porto, 2003-04)
Topping the 2002-03 campaign seemed like an impossible task for Mourinho, but his second season at Porto was nothing short of miraculous. The Dragons retained the league title with a 100 percent home record, but saved their best performances for the European stage.
Porto were drawn in a tough group alongside Real Madrid, Marseille and Partizan Belgrade. They could only draw on matchday one before suffering a humbling 3-1 loss at home to Real, but a 3-2 victory at Marseille proved to be a huge turning point.
Mourinho's team went on to beat Marseille and Partizan at home to qualify for the last 16, and wrapped up their group schedule with an impressive 1-1 draw against Madrid at Santiago Bernabeu. Next up, Manchester United.
Benni McCarthy scored a brace against United at the Dragao to give Porto a 2-1 lead heading into the second leg of the tie at Old Trafford. Paul Scholes headed United in front on home turf, and they were set to qualify for the quarter-finals on away goals before a shocking late twist.
United goalkeeper Tim Howard could only fumble a long-range free-kick from McCarthy, and Costinha tucked home the rebound - sparking absolute delirium on the away bench. Mourinho famously celebrated by sprinting down the touchline to rub salt in the Red Devils' wounds, and Porto went on to the last eight.
The Primeira Liga champions then saw off Lyon with minimal fuss before beating Deportivo La Coruna 1-0 on aggregate in the semis. They would meet fellow underdogs Monaco in the final, but the gulf between the two sides proved to be huge.
A stunning strike from Carlos Alberto gave Porto the lead in Gelsenkirchen before goals from Maniche and Deco sealed a comfortable 3-0 victory. Mourinho left for Chelsea a week later as a club legend.
"Mourinho made a very good group of players into players with ambition. They didn’t have too many titles then, so he created this hunger for success," Costinha said in an interview with The Athletic in 2020.
It's safe to say that no other manager could have achieved what Mourinho did at Porto in such a short period of time. This was the dawning of The Special One.
#1 Champions League (Inter, 2009-10)
Mourinho also left his mark at Chelsea, winning two Premier League titles in three years, but he was dismissed after a drop in standards at the start of the 2007-08 season. He embarked on a new challenge in Italy the following year, replacing Roberto Mancini at Inter.
The Nerazzurri clinched their fourth-successive Serie A crown in Mourinho's maiden season, but he wasn't brought in to continue their domestic dominance. Inter owner Massimo Moratti wanted the Champions League. Holders Manchester United knocked Inter out in the last 16 on their way to reaching another final in the 2008-09 edition of the competition. But Mourinho would be back with a vengeance.
Inter lost big-name stars such as Adriano, Hernan Crespo and Luis Figo, but Mourinho added Diego Milito, Thiago Motta and Wesley Sneijder to his ranks ahead of his second year at the helm. They started badly in the Champions League group stage, winning just one of their first five games, with a damaging 2-0 loss at Barcelona posted on matchday five. However, the Nerazzurri raised their game to beat Rubin Kazan at home and set up a last-16 encounter against Mourinho's former club, Chelsea.
Inter beat the Blues at San Siro and Stamford Bridge to reach the last eight, and they breezed past CSKA Moscow to earn a blockbuster semi-final tie against Barca. The Spanish giants were gunning for a second successive Champions League crown under Pep Guardiola, and few expected Inter to give them many problems after their group-stage meetings.
But Mourinho believed in his team. Pedro fired Barca in front early in the first leg at San Siro, but Inter produced a superb display to comeback and win 3-1, with Sneijder, Maicon and Milito all getting on the scoresheet.
Inter showed even greater resilience in the second leg at Camp Nou as they were forced to play for over an hour with 10 men after Motta was shown a red card for handing off Sergio Busquets. The visitors rightly felt aggrieved by the decision as replays showed there was minimal contact, but it only strengthened their resolve.
Gerard Pique scored to set up a nail-biting finale, but Mourinho's men held on for a stunning 3-2 aggregate victory. After keeping Lionel Messi and Co quiet, it felt like their name was already on the trophy.
Inter held their nerve to beat Bayern Munich 2-0 in the final at the Bernabeu, with Milito scoring two brilliant goals. The result saw the Nerazzurri become the first Italian side in history to win the treble, as Mourinho also guided them to another Serie A title and Coppa Italia glory.
No single campaign typifies what Mourinho is about more than 2009-10. It was the pinnacle for him and for Inter, who will hope to channel the same spirit when they return to the Champions League final against City on June 10.