Jose Mourinho said Tuesday that “history does not play” as he prepares his Roma team to face Europa League specialists Sevilla in the 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.
Mourinho said Roma deserved to be in the showpiece match in the Hungarian capital after an arduous journey.
“It has been a long journey, different from our opponents, who dropped into this competition from the Champions League,” he told his pre-match press conference on Tuesday.
Mourinho said he was aware of the Spanish club’s perfect record in finals in Europe’s second-tier competition – they have won all six they have played.
But the Portuguese coach downplayed the relevance 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 deserve to be here.
“They have a history that we do not have, they have experience that we don’t boast. For them to play the final is a normal thing – for us it is an extraordinary event but tomorrow when the game starts we will be there.”
Mourinho left Inter Milan for Real Madrid shortly after winning the 2010 Champions League final and he was asked whether he could do the same this year, potentially taking the joy out of the event.
“There’s a big difference with the situation I had when I was at Inter,” he said, addressing speculation over his future.
“I hadn’t actually signed a contract with Real Madrid at that stage even though the deal was done but at this moment in time I’ve had no contact with any other clubs and that’s why we’re talking about a completely different situation.
“But I’m not bothered about that. What matters is us, us, us and tomorrow it will be all about us and that’s how we want to play.”
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, he will pull clear of Giovanni Trapattoni, who also won five major European trophies in his coaching career.
The 60-year-old played down the idea that his extra experience at the European level compared with that of Mendilibar, 62, could be decisive.
“I’ve had more chances to play in Europe but we’re talking about two coaches who belong to the same generation, with the same amount of years of experience and the same kind of grey hair, so I think we are pretty much level, in a similar situation,” he said.
Mendilibar, who only took charge in March after a turbulent season for the Spanish club, and who has never won a major trophy, said he was appreciative of Mourinho’s comments.
“I’m really grateful for his words but history does not win games and sweet-talking does not win games either,” said the Spaniard, whose team beat Manchester United and Juventus on the way to the final.
“It’s going to be super-complicated. We’ve eliminated great teams but the most difficult one is ahead of us.”
Mourinho, as he left his 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.