The set is complete. They’ve done it all. They have every one of them in the cabinet.
After 14 matches and more than 14,358 air miles, Manchester United are Europa League champions. They’ve won everything there is to win.
The Red Devils now stand alongside Bayern Munich, Chelsea, Juventus and Wednesday’s opponents Ajax as the only clubs to have won the UEFA Cup/Europa League, Champions League/European Cup & Cup-Winners’ Cup.
And it was fitting that substitute Wayne Rooney lifted the mammoth trophy in Stockholm following their 2-0 defeat of Ajax on Wednesday, in what could be his last appearance for the club.
Man Utd’s and England’s all-time top scorer lifted the club’s 42nd trophy, making them the most decorated side in English football history.
31-year-old Rooney’s late substitute appearance was his fourth appearance in a major European final for the club, equaling the record held by Ryan Giggs.
It was also fitting that the most expensive footballer in history fired United into the lead, Paul Pogba’s deflected effort giving his side a first-half lead and effectively end the contest with 70 minutes still left to play.
“We did it. We are very proud. Nobody can talk. They said we had a bad season but we have three trophies,” cheered Pogba. “The start was important and after the goals we controlled the game.”
A young Ajax side never recovered, their high press proving futile as Man Utd sailed past it time and again by going long to Marouane Fellaini – who won 15 aerial duels, a new record high in one match in Europa League history.
The Dutch team, once giants of the game, fought bravely but can no longer really compete against the elite. It was exactly 22 years after the Dutch giants had claimed their last European trophy, by beating Milan in the 1995 Champions League final. It felt like much longer.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan scored an ingenious second, becoming the first Armenian ever to win a major European trophy. He also became the only Manchester United player ever to score in five different European games away from Old Trafford in a single campaign.
"I was dreaming every day that I would score in the final,” he said. “I’m so very happy."
And all those records fell for a record-breaking manager. Jose Mourinho is now the only man to coach teams to both the European Cup/Champions League (2) & UEFA Cup/Europa League (2) more than once.
"There are lots of poets in football but they don't win many trophies," said Mourinho, delighted as he penned a new verse in the great history of Manchester United.
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