Feyenoord boss Arne Slot reflected on this week’s upcoming Conference League final against Roma in Tirana.
The two sides square off on Wednesday evening hoping to cap-off their respective seasons with a European trophy, a possibility that Slot claims nobody could’ve envisioned for his side before the season.
“If you look back at the last few seasons for Feyenoord, I don’t think it was realistic to expect (us to reach this final),” he told UEFA.com.
“Over the past few years, we have never even managed to get past the group stage. I think after one of the first away matches that we won, a member of the press was watching the match with tears in their eyes saying, ‘But we never win away games!'”
“It was that special. But then, when you start working with this team and you play matches together, you soon realise that this team has more potential (than they are given credit for). Our matches were some of the most spectacular: lots of goals, energy, intensity, and there was a lot of attacking football.”
“These are the things that Dutch football is renowned for. So, regardless of the results, we can look back on this season with a very positive feeling about the way we presented ourselves.”
“What would it mean to win the final? I think you can only describe that feeling once it has happened,” he added.
“I think we have succeeded in making the fans proud of this team. They are really proud of their team now, but we are not satisfied with just that.”
“We want more and I think this group should demand that of themselves because they have the quality to win titles. We did not manage to do that in the Dutch league. We couldn’t win the league or the cup.”
“We still have a unique opportunity in Europe. The players must realise that this team has the potential to win something, and we’ll have to demonstrate that on 25 May as I feel the team will be seen in a different light next season. So, for this group that has experienced so much together, this is the last chance to win a title this season.”
As for their opponents, the Dutchman admitted that Roma boss Jose Mourinho’s managerial resume speaks for itself.
“Mourinho’s CV makes you wary of his team, he is known for winning many finals. But we mainly have to focus on his team, the tactics and the different ways they play,” Slot explained.
“We shouldn’t pay too much attention to the fact that he has such an impressive track record in finals. Roma can play brilliantly in important matches, especially in the knockout phases of European competitions.”
Adding, “They know how to prepare well for an important game. They have a great starting lineup, but if Mourinho has to look to the bench, there are a lot of other players who can reinforce the team.”
“Only the best teams make it to the finals, so it’s logical that you will have to face a strong opponent. But the same goes for AS Roma: they also have a strong opponent to face.”