Tottenham manager Jose Mourinho said he has never experienced a similar feeling to the pain of crashing out of the Europa League to Dinamo Zagreb on Thursday.
Spurs took a 2-0 first leg lead to the Croatian capital, but a hat-trick of excellent finishes from Mislav Orsic claimed a huge shock for Dinamo.
Mourinho turned on his players’ attitude after the match, while Tottenham captain Hugo Lloris branded the result a “disgrace”.
In his two previous campaigns in the Europa League, Mourinho won the competition with Porto and Manchester United.
The Portuguese also won the Champions League with Porto and Inter Milan, while the majority of his exits from European football’s top competition have come in the latter stages to the likes of Manchester United, Liverpool, Barcelona, Paris Saint-Germain and Bayern Munich.
“Honestly I don’t believe (I had) a similar feeling,” said Mourinho when asked if it was his worst European exit.
“I had in Europe moments of big pain but pain caused by what football is. I lost two Champions League semi-finals on penalties. It hurts you. (I’m) maybe still bleeding.
“But the passion for football, the respect for your job is something that hurts me deeply. And I have this very bad feeling. This very bad feeling because maybe for some people in football, football is a job or a way to make money.
“For me, it’s much more than that. That’s what I never lose – this basics of football, which is the passion, the heart, the desire. I feel very, very hurt that I cannot find more words to describe it.”
Mourinho’s future at Tottenham is now in doubt with a return to the Champions League next season looking unlikely.
Spurs are eighth in the Premier League, six points adrift of the top four, although they do have a game in hand away to Aston Villa on Sunday.
Mourinho also has one other chance to save his first full season in charge when Tottenham face runaway Premier League leaders Manchester City in the League Cup final next month.
But he acknowledged the size of the task his side face at Wembley if they are to halt City’s quest for an unprecedented quadruple.
“The only chance that we have to win a trophy this season is the final that we have to play against a very good team, against the next champions and a team that match after match show an incredible desire of winning,” added Mourinho.
“So it’ll be a very difficult final and if we want to have a chance to win it, the attitude has to be completely different.”
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