'Mourinho is a special manager', says former Inter goalkeeper Julio Cesar

By Sports Desk April 14, 2022

Julio Cesar has backed his former manager Jose Mourinho to become the first coach to lift the Europa Conference League trophy, adding to his substantial European legacy.

Mourinho leads his Roma side into their quarter-final second leg against Bodo/Glimt on Thursday, looking to recover from a 2-1 first-leg loss in Norway.

Cesar played under Mourinho while at Inter, winning a historic treble in the 2009-10 season consisting of the Serie A title, Coppa Italia, and the Champions League.

The Portuguese coach has won four European trophies during his career, two Champions Leagues (Porto 2003-04, Inter 2009-10) and two UEFA Cup/Europa Leagues (Porto 2002-03, Manchester United 2016-17).

Speaking with Stats Perform courtesy of Enterprise Rent-A-Car, Cesar praised Mourinho and his ability to lift major European trophies.

"Mourinho is for me a special manager," he said. "I was at Inter when he joined us, and we lived moments of joy. I really think highly of him. I support him always.

"I think AS Roma appointed the right manager. He is really passionate. He's got determination. He has already won the Europa League with Porto and Manchester United. He knows this competition well, and the Champions League. He knows how to play in Europe, in this kind of competition. He is used to lifting trophies."

The former Brazil goalkeeper also spoke highly of Roma, admitting that he would have liked to have played for the Giallorossi to experience the support of their fans, whom he compared to those of one of his former clubs, Brazilian outfit Flamengo.

"AS Roma are a team for the people," he said. "As a former player, I would like to play just one time for AS Roma, listening to their supporters. They are supporters similar to Flamengo."

Cesar also said the motivation to be the winner of the inaugural edition of the Conference League will drive Mourinho to succeed this season.

"It's the first edition of the Conference League. It can be a new trophy for him." Cesar added. "He's someone who loves to win the first edition of a competition. It would be a nice thing for him.

"He would be the first to win the European treble; Conference League, Europa League and Champions League. He's someone like that. It is what is pushing him, trying to win the three cups in Europe."

The 42-year-old also believes the Conference League has improved fans' experience of European football, allowing people to watch teams they would not normally see, and giving smaller clubs experience of high-profile European games.

"Today we can see many clubs playing in Europe that we didn't know before," Cesar added. "Only people crazy about football follow every league. It doesn't work like that for everybody. We can get to know new squads and managers thanks to Conference League. I think it's been a positive thing for football.

"Every player dreams to play in European competitions. UEFA did something nice to organise this new competition. It's important for football. For supporters who did not expect to see their team playing in Europe, I think this idea arrived in the right time.

"It's a nice thing for supporters [of small clubs] following their team away to play against Roma or Tottenham... [The players] play in clubs that are able to play in nice stadiums and atmospheres [thanks to the Conference League]."

Thursday also sees the Europa League quarter-finals draw to a close, and Cesar said the last eight of that competition is a level playing field, with surprises "always possible".

"We know when a team is better than another in today's football," he said. "However, all teams are level in the quarter-finals. It's still possible to see some surprises. It's always possible, this is football. Football is passion."

On which team he thinks are favourites to win the Europa League, Cesar added: "I think Barcelona is a team to respect, considering their history and tradition."

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