Mourinho calls and the players rush to join him in Rome

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ROME – Always known as a great motivator, José Mourinho also excelled as a pitcher in his last coaching job in Rome.

When “Mou” calls, the players rush to the Italian capital.

It all started a year ago when Mourinho lured Tammy Abraham away from European champions Chelsea to join him in Roma.

At first, the young striker was completely unconvinced of joining a side that hadn’t won a trophy for nearly 15 years and were historically a step below northern Italian powerhouses Juventus. AC Milan and Inter Milan.

Then Mourinho asked him: “Do you want to stay in rainy England or come and enjoy the sun in Rome?”

That sealed the $41m transfer and Abraham scored 27 goals in all competitions last season, including nine in Roma’s run for the Europa Conference League title.

Around the same time, Mourinho convinced Henrikh Mkhitaryan – who was eager to leave Roma – to stay one more season and reunite with his former manager at Manchester United.

That season’s transfer campaign began with Mourinho luring another player from England, midfielder Nemanja Matić, who had played under him at Chelsea and United.

Then came the biggest name of them all, Paulo Dybala, who attracted interest from Champions League clubs Inter Milan and Napoli to join Roma on a free transfer.

“The coach was very clear in his ideas – which was one of the main reasons for my choice,” said Dybala. “Everyone knows what he represents in football. His calls got me excited. I had the privilege of playing with the greatest (players) and now I can work with one of the best coaches in the game. history of soccer.

The arrival of Dybala, who was named Serie A MVP two seasons ago, has Roma fans dreaming of more trophies – like the domestic league titles Mourinho used to win earlier in his career. career with Porto, Chelsea, Inter Milan and Real Madrid.

That was before Mourinho’s career ran into turmoil in his previous job at Tottenham, where dressing room apathy and growing disillusionment with his tactics cost him his place at the London club after 17 months.

So far, however, Mourinho has been a perfect fit for Roma, who have a big fan base in a major European capital but are hungry for trophies.

“I realized the moment I arrived what this meant – that they were waiting for this,” Mourinho said after lifting the Conference League trophy in May.

The Conference title improved Mourinho’s record in European finals to five trophies in five matches. It also made him the first manager to lead four different clubs to European titles after winning the 2003 UEFA Cup and the 2004 Champions League final with Porto; the 2010 Champions League final with Inter Milan; and the 2017 Europa League final with Manchester United.

To commemorate his status as the only manager to have won all three European titles currently on offer, Mourinho had the Europa League, Champions League and Conference League trophies tattooed on his right arm.

“Now I’m staying, there’s no doubt,” said Mourinho, who is entering the second season of a three-year contract. “I just want to stay in Rome. We have to understand what our owners, who are fantastic people, want to do next season because it’s ancient history, but we can build a really solid project with honest professionals.”

Players like Dybala were drawn to Roma’s revival by Mourinho, who rekindled the team’s fan base.

“For us South Americans, it’s special to play at (Stadio) Olimpico,” said Dybala, an Argentina international. “It makes you feel like you’re in Argentina or Brazil, which isn’t easy to find in Europe. So playing for these fans will be something unique.

Dybala’s arrival has been compared to how the transfer of Gabriel Batistuta – another standout Argentine player – was seen as the key to helping Roma win their last Serie A title in 2001.

“(Roma’s moves) could change the hierarchy among the big Serie A clubs,” said Fabio Capello, who coached the Giallorossi in 2001. “Roma have become real competitors.”

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