José Mourinho referred to Roma as a “big club” that lacked a trophy cabinet to match the team’s social dimension and passionate fan base.
The Giallorossi won their first European title in more than six decades on Wednesday, capping off Mourinho’s first season as a coach in the Italian city.
Nicol Zaniolo scored in the first half, goalkeeper Rui Patrcio made some crucial saves in the second, and Roma defeated Feyenoord 1-0 to win the inaugural Europa Conference League.
It is Roma’s first European trophy since winning the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup in 1961, which is regarded as the predecessor of the UEFA Cup and Europa League. It is also Roma’s first title of any type since winning the Italian Cup in 2008.
Aside from the few thousand Roma fans inside Tirana’s modest National Arena, 50,000 people watched the game on large screens at Rome’s Stadio Olimpico.
Zaniolo’s goal was set up by a ball over the top from Gianluca Mancini, which Zaniolo handled with his chest. Zaniolo then used the tip of his boot to send the ball beyond onrushing goalkeeper Justin Bijlow.
Zaniolo has frequently been dubbed “Italy’s most talented young player.” But he’s been hampered by two significant knee ailments, one of which kept him out for the entire season last year and prohibited him from participating in the Azzurri’s march to the European Championship triumph.
Zaniolo, aged 22 years and 327 days, became the youngest Italian player to score in a European final since Alessandro Del Piero’s goal for Juventus in the 1997 Champions League final loss to Borussia Dortmund at 22 years and 200 days.
In 10 Conference League games, Zaniolo has five goals and three assists.
Mourinho motioned for his ecstatic bench players to rest and calm down after Zaniolo’s score, considering how much time remained.
Feyenoord came out firing after the interval, first with a close-range effort from Gernot Trauner, then with a long-range bomb from Tyrell Malacia that Rui Patricio palmed against the upright.
Mourinho now has five trophies in five European finals, having won the 2003 UEFA Cup and 2004 Champions League finals with Porto, the 2010 Champions League final with Inter Milan, and the 2017 Europa League final with Manchester United.
Roma had lost its two previous continental finals, defeated by domestic rival Inter Milan in the 1991 UEFA Cup and dropping a penalty shootout to Liverpool in the 1984 European Cup final in its home stadium.