Jose Mourinho Says Europa League Is the 'Most Important Trophy' of His Career

Matt JonesFeatured ColumnistMay 25, 2017

STOCKHOLM, SWEDEN - MAY 24: Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho kisses the trophy during the UEFA Europa League Final match between Ajax and Manchester United at Friends Arena on May 24, 2017 in Stockholm, Sweden. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)
Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho hailed Wednesday's UEFA Europa League success as the "most important" of his coaching career. 

The Red Devils coasted to a 2-0 win over Ajax in Stockholm in the final thanks to goals from Paul Pogba and Henrikh Mkhitaryan. Mourinho spoke of what he feels is a significant feat thereafter.

"To me, it is the most important trophy of my career because it is the last," he told the assembled media. "That is how I look at things. Of course, Champions League is bigger than Europa League, but that is the last trophy, and that is when the feelings are under the skin, and obviously, it is a fantastic feeling for the team."

STOCKHOLM, SWEDEN - MAY 24: Manchester United manager Jose mourinho looks on during the UEFA Europa League Final match between Ajax and Manchester United at Friends Arena on May 24, 2017 in Stockholm, Sweden. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)
Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

The match was laced with Mourinho's tactical influence, too. United were ruthless in capitalising on an opponent's error, soaked up pressure and sought to pinch another goal on the break or, as they did, thanks to a set piece.

Regardless of the method, United got there. As we can see, courtesy of BT Sport Football, the victory meant a lot to Mourinho:

As the manager went on to say, the Europa League means the club has won two pieces of silverware this season, having enjoyed success in the EFL Cup earlier in the campaign. It also means United will be in the UEFA Champions League next season.

Additionally, the Red Devils had not won this trophy before, and while it may not carry the same prestige as a Premier League or a Champions League triumph, it means they have completed the full set.

Overall, the victory takes United's major-trophy haul to 43, as we can see:

From a personal perspective, Mourinho will also feel vindicated. The Portuguese said his first year at Old Trafford has been his "most difficult season as a manager," and there have been times when the Red Devils have been a tough watch.

STOCKHOLM, SWEDEN - MAY 24: Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho celebrates during the UEFA Europa League Final match between Ajax and Manchester United at Friends Arena on May 24, 2017 in Stockholm, Sweden. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)
Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

But Mourinho gets his teams over the line in competitions. The success on Wednesday represented the 54-year-old’s fourth major European trophy, while in his 14 major club finals as a manager, he's enjoyed victory in 12.

Football journalist Tony Evans suggested Mourinho's record can be taken for granted at times:

While United will enjoy this success, a club of such prestige demands standards not only remain high moving forward but that they're lifted, too. It means there will be an onus on Mourinho to improve his side's Premier League form, make an impact in the Champions League and play a more enterprising style of football.

It feels as though, after years of transition following the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson in 2013, United finally have a sturdy platform to push on from again. Mourinho is the man the club can thank for that.