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Jose Mourinho praises Roma hero who rediscovered his ‘lost joy’

Jose Mourinho at Roma
© Ace Football

The Portuguese heaped special praise on a player after Roma edged a step closer to back-to-back European titles.

AS Roma manager Jose Mourinho praised Paulo Dybala after the forward’s crucial goal in their Europa League quarter-final tie against Feyenoord.

With Roma 2-1 down on aggregate late in Thursday’s second leg, Dybala’s 89th-minute goal leveled the scoreline, forcing the tie into extra time. It was the 29-year-old’s 16th goal for the club since his arrival from Juventus last summer.

“My sensation is that [Dybala] was seeking the joy he had lost more than confidence,” Mourinho said after the final whistle in Rome.

“He found it here, with a squad that understands him, a coach that loves him, and a position on the field with players like Pellegrini, Cristante and Mancini. He has strong characters around him in leadership roles.

“Dybala is a nice boy. He has the quality to play for the biggest clubs in the world, but he has found joy here. I gave him absolute freedom to come on tonight and he could come off even two minutes later if he didn’t feel up to it, but he played 30 minutes of extra time and 25 minutes regular, and he finished on a high.”

Stephan El Shaarawy and Lorenzo Pellegrini scored in extra time to send last season’s Europa Conference League winners into the Europa League semi-finals. They won the second leg 4-1, ensuring a 5-2 aggregate victory.

Roma will play Bayer Leverkusen in the last four of the competition. The first leg will take place at the Stadio Olimpico on May 11.