Jose Mourinho said Tuesday that “history does not play” as he prepares his Roma team to face Europa League specialists Sevilla in Wednesday’s final in Budapest.
The Italian side, who can finish no higher than fifth in Serie A, meet the six-time winners at the Puskas Arena, just 12 months after they won the inaugural Europa Conference League.
The Portuguese manager said his team deserved to be in the showpiece match in the Hungarian capital after an arduous journey.
“We deserve to play this final, we have been saying that for a long time,” he said at his pre-match press conference.
“It has been a long journey, different from our opponent, who came from the Champions League.
“In the last two months we have played quarter-finals, semi-finals, league, injuries and we have not had much time to work. We tried to recover and stay as good as possible. In the last few days we have been working.”
Mourinho said he was aware of the Spanish team’s perfect record in Europe’s second-tier competition — they have won all six of the finals they have played.
But he downplayed the importance of that achievement.
“History does not play,” he said. “My colleague (Sevilla coach Jose Luis Mendilibar) thinks otherwise — I have respect for him.
“He believes that history makes Sevilla favourites, I respect that. We are in the final because we deserved to be. They have a history that we do not have. For them to play the final is a normal thing, for us it is an extraordinary event.
“Sevilla has a great team, two great teams because they have 25 players of the highest level.
“They are all high-level professionals, they have so many options. But they don’t know my guys and they don’t know my team as a team. Tomorrow we’ll be there.”
Portugal’s Mourinho has five major continental titles to his name — two Champions League wins, two Europa League trophies and last year’s triumph in the Conference League.
If Roma win on Wednesday, Mourinho will pull clear of Giovanni Trapattoni, who also won five major European trophies in his coaching career.
Mourinho, as he left the press conference, suggested that Argentine forward Paulo Dybala, who has been struggling with injury, could be fit enough to play for 20 to 30 minutes.