Cologne (dpa) – Sporty fairness and his silver medal did not matter to Romelu Lukaku after perhaps the greatest disappointment of his career.
After turning from a celebrated hero to a tragic figure in less than two hours, the Inter Milan striker was not in the mood for the mandatory winners’ party on the pitch. Immediately after the 2: 3 (2: 2) against Sevilla FC, the record scorer rushed into the catacombs of the Cologne stadium and never returned. That night, UEFA immortalized him in the statistics as a bad luck when they named him after a delay as an own-goal shooter in the Spaniard’s winning goal.
A consistent punch line for this crazy endgame, which offered a cornucopia of unbridled emotions during the 90 minutes and for a long time afterwards. That Lukaku, who was celebrated everywhere during the tournament, had scored a double record goal after five minutes – he scored in the eleventh game in a row and earlier than anyone in the finals of the competition – but then maneuvered a spectacular overhead kick from Diego Carlos into his own goal but symbolic in the end.
And so did the two coaches. Here Seville’s Julen Lopetegui, who was ridiculed after being kicked out of the Spanish national team and Real Madrid in 2018. And now, after his premiere season in Andalusia, with tears in his eyes his players were thrown in the air. There Antonio Conte, who was denied the coronation of his strong first inter-year – and for whom there will probably be no more.
The 51-year-old, who had messed with the club’s management, waved around extremely when asked about his future. But if you read between the lines, Contes would be very surprised if he stayed. He also has a private life, said the ex-international, it was a good time and he has no regrets.
The fact that in addition to Lukaku’s mishap, Luuk de Jong, once judged as a flop in Mönchengladbach, cost him the title with two header goals (12th / 33rd) was another incredible story of the evening. After the game, the Dutchman refused to go into his unfortunate time a few kilometers away in Gladbach between 2012 and 2014. “That this game took place in Germany is something special,” he said with a mischievous grin: “Because it’s close to my home.”
De Jong grew up around 200 kilometers from Cologne in Gelderland. Incidentally, he had never played in the Cologne stadium before his first big evening with the 2-1 winning goal against Manchester United in the semifinals – during his two Gladbach years, the local FC played in the 2nd Bundesliga.
Sevilla were behind in both games and finally won without overtime. That shows the mentality of the team. And the belief in yourself in the Europa League. With six titles – all since 2006 – Sevilla is the record winner in the small European Cup. Six titles brought all German clubs together, no single club in Europe won more than three. “This tournament belongs to the club – and UEFA knows it too,” wrote the “Mundo Deportivo”. “We have the jackpot,” said Lopetegui, beaming. Lukaku and Conte, on the other hand, had literally thick necks.