Sports, Football

Mourinho leaves Roma fans fearing summer exit

Published : 02 Jun 2023 08:09 PM

Jose Mourinho told his Roma players that there was no need to cry after a long, emotional Europa League ride ended in defeat at the final hurdle, but fans will shed a tear should the Portuguese leave this summer.

Roma and Mourinho were denied a second European crown in as many years when his exhausted, injury-ravaged team lost on penalties to Sevilla, but he gave a rousing post-match speech on the pitch before thanking the army of Roma fans who made it to Budapest.

His message was one of pride, which is what he has  restored at Roma, a team which has one of Italy's largest, most passionate fan bases but has won little of note since being founded in 1927.

Last season's Europa Conference League win, the fifth major continental trophy of Mourinho's career and the first in Roma's history, had supporters believing that a winning mentality could be instilled in what has often been a basket case club.

"You can lose a match, but you must never lose your dignity," Mourinho later told reporters.

"We lost a match but we didn't lose our dignity. I've won five finals but I didn't go home any prouder than I will today. Happier, obviously, but not prouder."

Those comments, and calling referee Anthony Taylor a "disgrace" in the Puskas Arena's car park for not awarding Roma a second-half penalty for handball, were lapped up by supporters who in Mourinho see their representative in the dugout.

The 60-year-old's contract expires at the end of next season but rumours about his future beyond the end of this month have been swirling since the end of last year.

He has yet to sit down with Roma's billionaire American owner and president Dan Friedkin, but Mourinho said on Wednesday that he and his team "deserve more", saying that he was "too tired to do the job as a coach, as a spokesman of the club".

"I want to stay but with the possibility of giving more," he added.