Mourinho admits captains expressed concerns over him leaving Roma

<span>Photograph: Anna Szilagyi/EPA</span>
Photograph: Anna Szilagyi/EPA

If this is to be José Mourinho’s last game at Roma, at least it is a final. The Portuguese coach, who left Porto and Internazionale to join Chelsea and Real Madrid immediately after winning European Cups in 2004 and 2010 respectively, admitted that his concerned club captains have asked him if history might repeat itself in Hungary. As he seeks his sixth major European title at a fourth different club, he also offered another pointed reminder that he was denied the chance to win a trophy at Tottenham Hotspur, who sacked him six days before the Carabao Cup final in 2021.

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Roma face Sevilla in the Europa League final in Budapest amidst doubts over Mourinho’s future, with Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain among potential destinations. He said that he had not spoken to any clubs, insisted that all that matters is winning a second European trophy in two years, and noted that the situation is even more complicated for his counterpart José Luis Mendilibar, whose short-term contract in Seville expires next month. But he did not offer any guarantees beyond the final, hinting instead at a departure most in Rome expect.

Asked if he might do the same as he had at Inter and Porto, Mourinho said: “I have spoken to my two captains [Lorenzo Pellegrini and Gianluca Mancini], who are coming out here to talk to [the media] and they asked me a similar question to yours. I was objective with them. I don’t want them to say what has been said, that is between me and my team, but they are aware of my thoughts.”

When a subsequent question was prefaced with a comment from an Italian journalist that he had spoken to people in the Spanish capital who think he may be the difference between these two finalists, he noted: “I love Madrid, it’s a unique experience. I love the president so much and the head coach as well; you can imagine my relationship with the fans, the club.

“There is a big difference to Inter [in 2010]: I hadn’t signed a contract with Real Madrid, although it was done. This time I have had no contact with any club. And anyway it doesn’t matter, this is about us, us, us, not that. We want to play this final and that’s it.”

Related: Sevilla take on ‘hardest of Europa League finals’ after troubled season

“History makes Sevilla favourites,” Mourinho continued. “They have a history that we don’t, an experience we don’t have. Playing a Europa League final has become almost normal for Sevilla; for Roma it’s extraordinary, unforgettable. Last season I had to explain to the players what a Uefa media day was. Now it’s the second time for them so it looks a bit more normal, but it’s not normal at all. I’m really happy: I came to Rome to help them grow and reach these special moments that define the history of a club. There are clubs that a final is just one more final; for Roma it is very special.”

As for the difference between Spurs and Roma, asked to explain his success and what it was that the Italian club had done that the London club had not, Mourinho replied: “Roma didn’t sack me before the [2022 Conference League] final in Tirana. At Tottenham they sacked me before the [2021 Carabao Cup] final at Wembley. Roma gave me the chance; at Tottenham I had no chance.”