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Europa League

Mourinho one of the greats and has nothing to prove – Rodgers

According to Leicester City counterpart Brendan Rodgers, Roma head coach Jose Mourinho is one of the most excellent managers of his generation and has nothing to prove.

Mourinho and Rodgers will come face-to-face on Thursday when Leicester host Roma for the first leg of their Europa Conference League semi-final.

The pair worked closely together when Rodgers was head of youth development at Chelsea during Mourinho’s first spell at Stamford Bridge.

Mourinho’s stock has fallen somewhat in recent years, with this his first trip to England since being sacked by Tottenham in April last year.

The Portuguese have since had a mixed time of things in charge of Roma, with the Europa Conference League his last realistic shot at success this season.

Despite going five years since last winning a trophy – the Europa League with United in 2016-17 – Rodgers remains a big supporter of Mourinho.

Rodgers said at his pre-match news conference on Wednesday:

“He has nothing to prove to anyone. He will always be a winner.

“I cannot speak any higher of him. He is one of the greats of our generation.

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“And I have got nothing but admiration for him.

“I became a manager in my own right, but I’ll never forget what I gained from him as a young coach.

“And I studied him and watched him, and at that time, it was an extraordinary period.”

Mourinho has won 25 trophies in four different countries, including the Champions League with Porto and Inter.

“He had the X factor,” Rodgers said when asked why he rates Mourinho as one of the best. “There isn’t one single thing. He was brilliant in so many aspects of the game.

“Detail-orientated, man-management of the players, his understanding of the tactical adaptation of the game.

“He had that special quality I was able to see.”

Leicester has struggled for consistency domestically this season and is only competing in the Europa Conference League after dropping out of the Europa League.

The Foxes have defeated Randers, Rennes and PSV to make it through to the semi-finals of UEFA’s third-tier competition, where they will face Roma for the first time.

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City has failed to win their previous two games against Italian opposition, losing and drawing with Napoli.

Rodgers, who confirmed striker Jamie Vardy could make the second start of 2022.

He is eager to set up a final against either Feyenoord or Marseille.

“It’s a prestigious competition; all four teams will want to win it,” he said.

“It’s a fantastic occasion against a top-class team. To get to the final, we will do everything we can. It’s another symbol of our growth as a club.”

Leicester has lost just one of their last 16 home games in all European competitions.

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