Those who dismiss the Europa Conference League as a minor trophy might try to say so to Roma fans who are celebrating victory in Europe for the first time in 61 years.
From the stadium in Tirana to the fans watching at the Olimpico in Rome, it was unbridled joy. Amazingly, the first European silver piece claimed by an Italian club in a dozen years had been handed over by the same manager who had won the previous one.
A certain Jose Mourinho.
The reputation is not like the one he had in 2010 when he led Inter to Champions League glory. The win over Feyenoord in Albania was his first trophy in five years, though the wait might have been shorter had Tottenham not sacked him on the eve of a cup final.
That could explain the tearful reaction to winning their fifth European final in five attempts. During this interview with sky sportswill explain what drives him now that he is approaching 60 years old, and how he has had to adapt and evolve to succeed again.
First, let’s address the question of motivation.
“Well, it’s my nature,” he tells her. sky sports.
“It is the nature of someone who wants to be in football for many years. If you are not in love with football and you achieve everything that there is to achieve in football, you just give up and enjoy your medals. And you enjoy your life.” . outside of football.
“But if you love football, you don’t want to stop. If you love football, you don’t feel like you’re getting older. You feel fresh, you feel young and that feeling goes until your last days.
“So motivation is part of the DNA.”
There are hints of the old belligerence in some of his responses. Is it too mischievous, for example, to imagine that he might have certain contemporaries in mind when asked to reflect on his record of titles won in Portugal, England, Italy and Spain?
“What’s more, I have won in these four countries very, very soon. I didn’t need to be there three, four or five years to win. It was immediately. In the first or, at most, the second season.
“I think it’s because I tried to understand the team. Studied. I tried to make the best of the differences trying to put my own ideas into practice but at the same time respecting the local cultures and in my case also the local feeling and approach to the game.”
But perhaps there is also a new willingness to embrace change. “The young man of 2000 is different from the young man of 2022,” he says. In context, it feels more like a challenge to accept than a lament for what has been lost.
Leadership remains key.
“There have been changes in terms of leadership, now it’s about getting involved.
“Leadership means that people have to follow you. And to follow you, they have to believe in you. They usually believe in you if they feel empathy, if they feel honesty.
“In my personal case as a leader, what that means to me, exactly means the responsibility of not letting your people down. You have to be with them and for them, all the time.
“They have to trust you.”
When Mourinho arrived at Roma last summer, this was soon raised as a potential problem. Two of his former Manchester United players, Chris Smalling and Henrikh Mkhitaryan, were senior figures at the club. There was talk of a difficult relationship with the latter.
Any concern soon vanished. He helped Mourinho’s appointment to be received with emotion. Star player Lorenzo Pellegrini said it was as if lightning had passed through the football club. Mourinho found a public receptive to his ideas.
Pellegrini called him the right man at the right time.
Exactly what Rome needed.
Exactly what Mourinho needed too.
“Every time I see him I’m still blown away,” says forward Tammy Abraham when talking about his coach. Pellegrini calls him one of the best coaches in the world. Abraham put him on top, crediting Mourinho for making him feel special again.
Nicolo Zaniolo, scorer of the winning goal in Tirana, simply describes him as a winner and points out that he helped him become a better defensive player. Everyone in Rome seems to have their own story, and more importantly, those stories are all a bit different.
“Everyone needs a different way to communicate, a different way to give feedback, to motivate them. The most important thing is to really know their nature, to know everything about them. So you can interact with them almost individually.”
“I would say it’s like when you go to a restaurant and eat ‘à la carte’, as they say in French. ‘A la carte’ is basically what you have to do with the player. Don’t look like they’re all the same because they’re all different. “.
Perhaps surprisingly, he does not consider himself a natural leader.
“I wouldn’t say that,” he reveals.
“In fact, at a young age, I would say I was a silent leader. But my job doesn’t allow me to be a silent leader, which is my nature. I have to be in the public eye all the time, I have to communicate through the media. media all the time and that makes a big difference.
But he is a born manager.
Smalling highlights his ability to get it right in the big games. Roger Ibáñez, the Brazilian defender, points out that Mourinho knows everything about him.
The devil is still in the details.
“The key to success remains the same: it’s all about strategy. You can’t predict everything, but the more prepared you are, the more you can spend on training.”
“You can reduce that unpredictability and that makes your choices and decisions feel easier. Of course you know that football matches carry some risk, but you have to try to reduce that risk by preparing as best you can.”
Is that enough to stay ahead?
When Mourinho found success so quickly at the beginning of his managerial career, Vitor Frade’s methods and those ideas about tactical periodization dissipated everywhere. His influence has been so great that finding an advantage over the rest must be more difficult than it was. But not impossible.
“The game has changed in the last two decades. In terms of training and methodology, we have many new and different tools to analyze a game even from the bench.
“Today I have something that was prohibited 20 years ago, which is a monitor with a tactical camera that we have in stadiums and that can give us different perspectives of the field.
“New dimensions of the coaching staff appeared. Now there are a lot of people around who specialize in a lot of different areas so you can share the work. That is a different situation.
“Just to give you an example, a while ago you only had the physical trainer. Now you have the performance trainer, the recovery trainer, the individual trainer and you have the prevention trainer. It’s crazy. It has taken our work to an incredible dimension. .
“You have to deal with so many people with such different personalities and egos now. You also need to deal with a lot more information than before. Sometimes I have to pick out the most important information because we just can’t deal with everything.”
“I think it’s quite similar to the Formula One teams. During the race they have so much data that they have to be very selective. They can’t just pass all the information to the driver.
The game has changed, but the goal remains the same. Cross the line first. Win the race. The most renowned winner in European football, a man once synonymous with success, continues to compete, still determined to take his place on the grid.
XTB Ambassador Jose Mourinho on the values he shares with them
“Well thought out strategy, desire to win, the same applies to investing. You know, at the end of the day everyone wants to win. In my case it is in football. In the case of XTB, of course, it is a different area, but you have the same desire to achieve, learn every day, try to be better every day. Sometimes it is the feeling of intuition. But there is also a lot of study, preparation and investment in oneself.”