Mourinho calls and players come running

August 03, 2022
Roma’s head coach Jose Mourinho
Roma’s head coach Jose Mourinho

ROME (AP):

Always known as a great motivator, Jose Mourinho is also excelling as a pitchman in his latest coaching job at Roma.

When "Mou" calls, players come running to the Italian capital.

It all started a year ago when Mourinho lured Tammy Abraham away from European champion Chelsea to join him in Rome.

At first, the young striker wasn't all that convinced about joining a team that hadn't won a trophy in nearly 15 years and has historically been a notch below Italy's northern powers Juventus, AC Milan and Inter Milan.

Then Mourinho asked him: "Do you want to stay in rainy England or come enjoy some sun in Rome?"

That sealed the US$41 million transfer and Abraham went on to score 27 goals in all competitions last season, including nine in Roma's run to the Europa Conference League title.

Around about the same time, Mourinho convinced Henrikh Mkhitaryan -- who was itching to leave Rome -- to stay one more season and reunite with his former coach at Manchester United.

This season's transfer campaign began with Mourinho luring another player from England, midfielder Nemanja Matic, who had played under him at both Chelsea and United.

Then came the biggest name of all, Paulo Dybala, who spurned interest from Champions League clubs Inter Milan and Napoli to join Roma on a free transfer.

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"The coach was very clear with his ideas -- which was one of the biggest reasons for my choice," Dybala said. "Everyone knows what he represents in football. His calls got me excited. I've had the privilege to play with the greatest (players) and now I can work with one of the best coaches in football history."

The arrival of Dybala, who was named Serie A's MVP two seasons ago, has Roma fans dreaming of more trophies -- like the domestic league titles that Mourinho became so accustomed to winning earlier in his career at Porto, Chelsea, Inter Milan and Real Madrid.

That was before Mourinho's career met some turbulence in his previous job at Tottenham, where dressing-room apathy and growing disillusionment at his tactics cost him his position at the London club after 17 months.

So far, though, Mourinho has been a perfect fit for Roma, which has a big fan base in a major European capital but which had been starved of trophies.

"I realised the moment I arrived what it meant -- that they were waiting for this," Mourinho said after raising the Conference League trophy in May.

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