Rolling back the years
Mourinho relishes Roma win in 1,000th game in charge
Published: Sep 16, 2021 12:58 PM
Joel Obi (left) of US Salernitana 1919 greets AS Roma manager Jose Mourinho in Salerno, Italy on August 29. Photo: VCG

Joel Obi (left) of US Salernitana 1919 greets AS Roma manager Jose Mourinho in Salerno, Italy on August 29. Photo: VCG

Jose Mourinho has long been seen as the "Special One" but he entered an elite group of managers with his 1,000th game in charge last weekend as Roma faced Sassulo in Serie A.

The game ended with a win and with the Portuguese coach rolling back the years to celebrate the winner by running down the touchline - a move that he debuted as a relative unknown when his Porto side beat Manchester United in the UEFA Champions League at Old Trafford.

"A brilliant last-minute winner... A trademark Mourinho sprint... Celebrations under the Curva... Are you not entertained?" wrote the AS Roma Twitter account, echoing the film Gladiator.

Mourinho could laugh off his antics after the game, though he admitted that he had apologized for doing so.

"I wasn't 58 years old, but 10 or 12 or 14, when you start dreaming about a career in football. Running like I did, I was running like a child," he said after Stephen El Shawaary's late winner kept up Roma's run. "I apologized to [Sassuolo coach Alessio] Dionisi for that."

The 58-year-old arrived in Rome this summer after leaving Spurs. He said he had played down the landmark game in the leadup, not wanting to let anyone know that he regarded game No.1,000 just as must-win as many of those that had gone before.

"During the week I was lying to people, telling everyone this wasn't a special game - perhaps I was trying to convince myself as well," he told the media after taking the three points.

"But actually it was - this game had a really special meaning for me. And I am sure I will remember it for the rest of my life, because my 1,000th game as a coach was this one.

"I didn't want to lose it, and I was very scared of having that be my lasting memory of the moment. So I was lying to everyone beforehand. It was a very special feeling.

"Perhaps God decided that I didn't deserve to have a negative memory of this particular game."

This win marked five in a row with Roma, the first time in his long and storied career that he was started with such gusto.

The coach's emotion was matched by his players after El Shawaary had curled in the winner off the post, as the rest of the squad joined Mourinho in running down the line to celebrate. That is a sign of some of the team spirit that was so lacking at Spurs where he was let go before the Carabao Cup final in the middle of last season having "lost the dressing room," as the expression goes.

Perhaps the emotion was heightened by the topsy-turvy nature of the game, which Mourinho said could have been much more high scoring.

"It could have ended 6 to 6, 7 to 7, [Roma goalkeeper] Rui Patricio came up with two miracles, we missed a few goals," he said. "Extraordinary game, a tremendous emotion."

Mourinho's record is quite remarkable. This was the 638th win in 1,000 games with 205 draws and just 157 defeats to his name during spells at Benfica, Leiria, Porto, Chelsea, Inter Milan, Real Madrid, Manchester United and Spurs before heading to the Eternal City.

He has already written himself into the record books - of all the managers to reach 1,000 games, and there are less than 50 of them in total, he has the highest win percentage of all of them to do it.

Some of his forebears led the tributes ahead of the milestone, with Mourinho inducted into the League Managers Association's 1,000 games club.

"Reaching 1,000 matches as a manager will be such a proud day for both Jose and his family and rightly so," former Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson told the LMA website.

"To reach this landmark as a manager is an outstanding accomplishment for Jose, particularly whilst excelling and winning titles in four European leagues and of course winning two Champions League trophies along the way. Jose's achievements will always ensure that he is acknowledged as one of the managerial greats.

"On behalf of the League Managers Association, congratulations and welcome to the Hall of Fame 1000 Club Jose."

Mourinho was grateful in accepting his place but hinted that his work is not done.

"I am obviously very pleased to be reaching the milestone of 1,000 matches managed this weekend, but at the same time it is always in my nature to be looking forward to the next match instead of dwelling on those precious matches that I have experienced so far in my career," he said.

That next match was a win - and a late one at that - to keep Roma's hopes of lifting a first league title in 21 years very much on track even at this early stage of the season.

Their next game in Serie A is against Verona on Sunday after the small matter of starting their UEFA Europa League campaign against CSKA Sofia in midweek.

As the season goes on, Mourinho is set to pass some of the biggest names in football management as he racks up more games in the dugout. On the horizon are former Celtic boss Jock Stein (1,038) and Bayern Munich legend Ottmar Hitzfeld (1039) before the end of this campaign.

Mourinho won Serie A with Inter Milan back in 2010 as part of a historic treble that also included the Coppa Italia and UEFA Champions League. Roma fans would be entertained with either of those domestic trophies and another touchline run or two would be welcomed with open arms.
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