Zaniolo’s first-half goal sealed a Europa Conference League victory for Jose Mourinho

JOSE MOURINHO proved again that he is the ‘special’ as he led Roma to their first major European crown.

Nicolo Zaniolo’s 32nd-minute goal was enough to defeat Feyenoord in the first Europa Conference League final in Albania’s capital Tirana.

Nicolo Zaniolo (right) celebrates the winning goal


Nicolo Zaniolo (right) celebrates the winning goalPhoto credit: Getty
Jose Mourinho celebrates his first cup win since 2017


Jose Mourinho celebrates his first cup win since 2017Photo credit: Reuters
Chris Smalling (left) celebrates with Tammy Abraham after playing a crucial role in Roma's victory


Chris Smalling (left) celebrates with Tammy Abraham after playing a crucial role in Roma’s victoryPhoto credit: Getty
Mourinho has now won five European trophies


Mourinho has now won five European trophiesCredit: AP

For Mourinho, this latest Euro triumph has shattered several records.

He is the first manager to win the new UEFA treble, adding to the Champions League and Europa League.

The 59-year-old’s fifth major trophy in Europe also makes him the only manager to have won a Euro title with four different clubs, alongside Porto, Inter Milan and Manchester United.

Ironically, the Portuguese legend’s last cutlery came with United in the 2017 Europa League final, but he’s finally added to a career that now stands at 26.

And to top it off, Jose has never lost a major European final in 22 years as a coach.

He spent before the game revealing he no longer considers himself ‘special’ – admitting the nickname he gave himself at Chelsea in 2004 is ‘nonsense’.

He claims he has more maturity and stability, only to burst into tears while pumping his chest to the max.

This final had a very English flair as Roma started with in-form striker Tammy Abraham and ex-Man United defender Chris Smalling.

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Arsenal had a loanee on either side – Ainsley Maitland-Niles on the bench for the Italians, while Reiss Nelson started on the wing for Feyenoord.

But in classic Jose fashion, the first half was a real slugfest as the competition’s top scorers met the best defense in Feyenoord.

Jose’s plans appeared to be in tatters after just 16 minutes when Henrikh Mkhitaryan – playing his first game since April from injury – hobbled away.

But Roma remained patient and fell with their first shot on goal when Gianluca Mancini picked out Zaniolo in the penalty area.

The 22-year-old chested down and outplayed goalkeeper Justin Bijlow to become the youngest Italian to score in a European final since 1997.

Feyenoord could have leveled in the second half had it not been for a brilliant save from Rui Patricio, while VAR ignored a clear foul on Abraham as he ran on goal.

But a defensively solid defense drilled by Mourinho – led by a resurgent Smalling – kept frustrating the Dutch side to claim victory.

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Abraham spent most of the night in isolation chasing shadows but will not mind as he returns to his new hometown of Rome as a European winner as he left the pitch late after winking at boss Jose on the sidelines.

And as the 24-year-old prepares to join Gareth Southgate’s England camp, not many of his countrymen will be able to match. Zaniolo’s first-half goal sealed a Europa Conference League victory for Jose Mourinho

Aila Slisco

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