Rome (AFP) – Jose Mourinho’s reign at Roma began on Friday with the Portuguese coach greeted like a rock star as he touched down in the Italian capital.
Hundreds of ‘Giallorossi’ fans waited outside the city’s Ciampino airport in soaring temperatures to greet the self-declared ‘Special One’ with a party atmosphere and flares heralding in the new era.
Waving the club’s yellow and red scarf, Mourinho briefly addressed the crowd before being driven away to the club’s Trigoria training centre for the first time.
The 58-year-old had earlier announced his impending arrival in a video posted on social media.
“AS Roma fans I’m about to pack my bags. See you soon,” Mourinho said.
Mourinho returns to Italy, where he left as a hero back in 2010 after leading Inter Milan to the treble — Champions League, Serie A and Coppa Italia.
“Finally something is changing in Roma, we have been waiting for a strong personality,” die-hard Roma fan Consuelo Aiudi, 43, told AFPTV.
“It’s really emotional for me because we have been waiting for years for something like this. I’ve been a season ticket holder for 25 years, we stopped dreaming.
“And now something has changed, we hope.”
The three-time Italian champions, who are trophyless since 2008, finished seventh in Serie A last season.
Mourinho had only been out of work for 15 days after leaving Tottenham two months ago before his return to Serie A was announced on a three-year deal.
His departure from Spurs marked the first time since the early years of his managerial career in Portugal that Mourinho has left a club without winning any silverware.
Mourinho has claimed 25 major trophies in his career and joins a club that hasn’t won Serie A since 2001.
– ‘The right coach’ –
As well as his triumphs with Inter he won the Champions League in 2004 and two Portuguese league titles with Porto, three Premier League titles with Chelsea and La Liga with Real Madrid in 2012.
He also led Manchester United to the Europa League in 2017.
In Rome, he replaces fellow Portuguese Paulo Fonseca, who left the club after two seasons.
Fonseca replaced Claudio Ranieri, who had a brief spell as coach after Eusebio Di Francesco was sacked in January 2019.
Di Francesco had guided the club to the Champions League semi-finals in 2018.
“The atmosphere will change for sure,” estimated 18-year-old Valerio Cetroni who was among the waiting fans.
“I think that the players will be more motivated and that he’s the right coach for this team.”
Fellow fan Alessandro Trombetti, 18, added: “We heard already about new players coming to play with Roma.
“The team and Rome needs important personalities and with Mourinho he will for sure bring some very good players, I hope so. So that we can now fight to win the championship and get to the Champions League.”
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