Tonight the Portuguese star coach José Mourinho and his club AS Roma meet Feyenoord Rotterdam in the final of the Conference League. It is doubtful whether the record that the former Champions and Europa League winner can set with the possible title win actually interests Mourinho. The man aspires to higher things.
It's unlikely that José Mourinho would really care - or at least he wouldn't admit it - but the AS Roma coach can make history in Tirana against Feyenoord Rotterdam on Wednesday night. He can lift a record not even held by his nemesis Pep Guardiola or the season's big winner Jurgen Klopp. The Portuguese can become the first coach to win the Champions League, Europa League and Conference League.
But for a man who says of himself - "When you've reached my level it's difficult to learn from others, you have to learn from yourself" - that's probably a mark below his level. And, a side aspect that should not be neglected: It is also the first final (9 p.m./live on RTL, on RTL and in the live ticker on ntv.de) of the Conference League, which was introduced for the first time.
In recent years, things have gotten a little quieter about the man who once started under Bobby Robson at Sporting Lisbon as an interpreter and assistant trainer for the English coach. The longtime national coach of the "Three Lions" once said looking back on this time with Mourinho: "He spoke perfect English. And he looked damn good. A little too good for my feeling." And José Mourinho probably knew that early on himself, because he once said: "God definitely thinks that I'm a great guy, that's why he gave me so much."
Without a doubt, the Portuguese is one of the most confident figures in world football. And he is someone who either has really bad control of his mouth and his emotions or uses both very consciously - with all the consequences that his actions entail.
José Mourinho is feared for his tough announcements and sayings. Just recently he snapped at a journalist again, saying that he would shit his pants in front of him. Media people have always been at the top of his hit list anyway. The Portuguese once said to a TV reporter: "You probably wanted to be a coach, but then it was only enough to become a journalist." A deliberate provocation from a man who knows how business works.
When he joined Inter Milan, he immediately announced: "I think it could be very entertaining for the journalists." And so it happened. As in all places where the controversial current coach of the Roma has worked in the last almost thirty years.
The eloquent, often somewhat erroneous comparisons that Mourinho uses to explain professional football are legendary. Once asked how crucial good players are to his success, he replied: "It's about omelettes and eggs. No eggs, no omelette. It all depends on the quality of the eggs. In the supermarket there are class A eggs, B or C and some are more expensive than others and make a better omelet, so if you have the A-class eggs in the supermarket and you can't go there, you have a problem."
One would think that this would make him particularly fond of the supposed "A-class" players, but that was never Mourinho's way. About one of the absolute superstars of this season, Karim Benzema, the Portuguese said at Real Madrid back then: "He plays because I don't have another one. If you don't have a dog to hunt with, you have to take a cat." And to Pedro Leon he said: "You wouldn't play the next game even if Real Madrid's plane crashed and you were the only one at home." That's tough stuff, of course - but that's exactly how José Mourinho ticks.
For him: "I don't want a player who is a perfect man and has a fantastic character. That's the guy I want for my daughter as a man." And that's exactly why Mourinho loves players like Zlatan Ibrahimović. When both were employed at Inter Milan in 2009, the Portuguese even once bizarrely refused to allow the Sweden international to be substituted. Zlatan was angry that day that his teammates didn't put good balls on him - and wanted out.
But Mourinho pretended not to understand him. He said to Ibra, "What is it? Do you want something to drink? Would you like some water? Here, please, take a sip and then go." And indeed: The Swedish superstar scored a wonderful goal shortly afterwards. But even then, Mourinho showed no mercy. On the contrary: he even pushed the game with Ibrahimović to the extreme. Because as the last player he did not change the Swedes, but the goalkeeper.
"Mou is a terrible guy," Ibrahimović recently said - and meant it affectionately. The relationship between these two extraordinary people is strong. When Zlatan met Pep Guardiola after his first spell with Mourinho at FC Barcelona, he soon declared: "We don't need the philosopher. The dwarf and I are enough."
Philosopher meant his coach and dwarf, of course, meant his team-mate Lionel Messi. When Guardiola practically neutralized him after this attack, Zlatan followed up with the following words: "You have no balls and you shit your pants in front of Mourinho. Compared to him you are nothing - fuck you!" One could hardly put into words one's admiration for one and dislike for the other more clearly in one sentence.
Tonight Mourinho can imitate his star player, who just won the Scudetto with AC Milan - and end the season with a title win. However, it will be interesting to see what the Portuguese will say after the final. Because the "horny guy" who was "given so much by God" will certainly be the focus of the media after the final. After all, he doesn't care that some people don't find him that exciting because of his sayings: "Even Jesus wasn't loved by everyone."