Jose Mourinho is bidding to win his sixth European trophy when Roma take on Sevilla in tonight’s Europa League final.
The Special One has never tasted defeat in the final of a continental competition and one player who the experienced manager will be relying on to protect that impressive record is Nemanja Matic.
Since arriving in the Eternal City from Manchester United on a free transfer last summer, the Serbian has been a vital cog in the Giallorossi’s 3-4-2-1 setup.
Ahead of this evening’s crucial match in Budapest, we shine the spotlight on the Italian outfit’s consistent No8.
Matic, 34, has spent a large chunk of his career being coached by Mourinho, with the pair winning the Premier League together at Chelsea in 2015.
On his eight-and-a-half years under the Portuguese, the lynchpin said: “We had a great relationship right from the start.
“We got along because he liked my dedication and my character, but he always demands more, he wants us to continue to grow.
“It was an honour that he wanted me on his team. Only the best play in the Premier League. When a coach knows how to motivate his players, they are able to give their best.
“I’ve been coached by Mourinho for eight-and-a-half years and that makes me happy because in that time I’ve reached my highest level.
“The relationships he creates with players cannot be explained in words.”
Mourinho’s decision to bring Matic to Rome has proven to be a very wise one indeed.
The midfield enforcer missed the second leg of the last-16 clash with Real Sociedad but has since played every single minute in the triumphs over Feyenoord and Bayer Leverkusen to reach the showpiece.
His commanding displays have helped the Giallorossi keep five of their six clean sheets in this season’s Europa League.
And the ex-Benfica man has really caught the eye in Serie A, too.
No player in the Roma squad has completed more passes in the final third than Matic (257) and he has further shown off his attacking credentials by creating the fifth-most chances (22).
The two-time Serbian Footballer of the Year has also contributed two goals and two assists in the league, including a recent late equaliser away at Salernitana.
The midfield battle is where the Europa League final will likely be won and lost.
If Matic can stamp his authority on the game and limit the influence of fellow veteran Ivan Rakitic, Roma’s chances of qualifying for next season’s Champions League at Sevilla’s expense increase dramatically.
The 48-cap international’s performance may also dictate the impact of key playmaker Lorenzo Pellegrini.
It is no coincidence that the Giallorossi captain is enjoying such a fruitful campaign, boasting four goals and four assists from his 13 European appearances this season with a stabilising force next to him.
Tonight may represent Matic’s final chance to get his hands on European silverware.
The Sabac-born maestro has extended his contract at Roma until the summer of 2024, but is acutely aware his time left at the top is limited.
Nevertheless, he will not be bowing out of football altogether when the time to retire arrives.
Earlier this month, he revealed: “I’m already set on becoming a manager once I retire. But first I want to play two more years. I feel good.”