Almost as soon as he was awarded it, Jose Mourinho took off the silver medal that had just been hung around his neck by UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin, walked toward the stands and handed it to a young fan in the front row.
“I only keep the gold ones,” Mourinho said later, still livid after his Roma squad was beaten by Sevilla in a penalty shootout to decide the Europa League final.
After coaching his team to the trophy in five consecutive European finals over two decades, it was Mourinho’s first defeat at this stage and the 60-year-old Portuguese coach was quick to blame the referee for not awarding a penalty kick to Roma for a perceived handball during the second half — as well as a bunch of other decisions that he thought English referee Anthony Taylor mishandled.
“The referee seemed like he was Spanish,” The Associated Press quoted Mourinho as saying. “The result was not fair and there are a lot of instances to re-examine.”
Mourinho was also seen insulting Taylor in the garage of the Puskas Arena in Budapest, Hungary, as his team prepared to depart the stadium.
Having also received a yellow card during the match, Mourinho could be hit with a multi-match ban from future European games by UEFA.
But whether those games come with Roma or another club is an open question.
Mourinho has one more season remaining on his three-year contract with Roma but has been vague about his plans.
“On Monday I’m going on vacation and vacation is vacation. But until then we have time to meet and to talk,” Mourinho said. “Right now I can’t say objectively that I’ll stay. But I would like to. I want to stay at Roma. But my players deserve more and I deserve more, too.”
Having led Roma to the Europa Conference League title in his first season with the Giallorossi, Mourinho is widely revered in the Italian capital. It’s been a career revival after dressing-room apathy and growing disillusionment at his tactics cost him his job at Tottenham slightly more than two years ago after 17 months at the London club.
Mourinho’s defensive tactics don’t make him such an attractive candidate for jobs at the world’s biggest clubs anymore.
“When I’ve been contacted, I’ve said so. Now nobody has called me,” he conceded.
Winning the final was the only route Roma had left to qualify for next season’s Champions League.
“It seems paradoxical but we’re better off not playing in the Champions League next season, because we’re not ready,” Mourinho said.
Roma enters a match against relegation-threatened Spezia in the final round of Serie A on Sunday in sixth place, one point behind Atalanta and one point ahead of Juventus.
Fifth place qualifies for the Europa League spot and sixth place for the Conference League.
With Inter Milan to play in the Champions League final against Manchester City and Fiorentina in the Conference League final against West Ham, those teams could gain automatic spots in Europe and alter Roma’s position.
The final, which Sevilla won 4-1 on penalties after the match ended 1-1 after extra time, lasted 146 minutes — including added time.
“We’re dead. Dead from exhaustion and disappointment,” Mourinho said. “But I’m proud of my boys. We gave everything. ... We lost, but with dignity. Roma was up to the task.”
If he does stay, Mourinho will likely ask for a slew of new players in the transfer market.
He got his wish in the last offseason when Paulo Dybala was signed on a free transfer from Juventus, Nemanja Matic rejoined Mourinho after spells under the coach at Chelsea and Manchester United, and Georginio Wijnaldum was loaned from Paris Saint-Germain. But Dybala and Wijnaldum struggled with injury for much of the season.
Still, Dybala’s first-half goal against Sevilla gave Roma hope of a second consecutive European title. Then Sevilla’s substitutions made a bigger impact as the game wore on.
“You played a great match in front of Europe,” Mourinho told his team. “We win and we lose together.”