Roma won their first major European trophy on Wednesday evening after beating Feyenoord in the Europa Conference League final in Tirana.
Their victory in Europe’s third-tier club competition saw Jose Mourinho pick up his first trophy since Manchester United’s Europa League triumph in 2017.
Chris Smalling was part of the United side that overcame Ajax in Stockholm five years ago and played a defining role in Roma’s success on Wednesday night.
The 32-year-old defender produced a man-of-the-match performance to help the Serie A side keep a clean sheet and secure their first title since 2008.
Smalling made several crucial blocks in the early stages of the second half and kept the competition’s leading goal scorer – Cyriel Dessers – incredibly quiet.
Roma won their first major European trophy on Wednesday evening after beating Feyenoord
Smalling (L) and Abraham (R) excelled for Roma during the Europa Conference League final
Meanwhile, at the other end of the pitch, Tammy Abraham helped Roma threaten Feyenoord’s defense. His most memorable moment of the game came when he was through on goal before being taken down by Marcos Senesi.
It comes as no surprise that these two players have rediscovered their form in Italy after their disappointing spells in the Premier League.
Serie A has long been a home away from home for English footballers and this season is no different. Both Smalling and Abraham have flourished in the Italian top-flight this season.
Smalling has turned himself into a defensive fortress, while Abraham has become a goal scoring phenomenon in Rome.
Sportsmail have taken a look back at their careers in England and analyzed how they have developed since moving to Italy.
Sportsmail looks at Smalling and Abraham’s careers and how they developed in Italy
Chris Smalling joined Roma from Manchester United in an £ 18million deal in October 2020 after impressing on loan with the Serie A side.
Smalling decided signed for Roma on a temporary basis after former Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer failed to include him in his first-team plans.
The defender said he knew instantly after arriving at the Serie A side that he wanted to move to the club permanently.
Smalling joined Roma from Manchester United in an £ 18million deal in October 2020
Smalling rediscovered his form after joining the Italian outfit and has since cemented his place in the starting XI under Jose Mourinho.
The former Manchester United defender has featured 38 times this season for Roma and scored a total of four goals in all competitions.
The 32-year-old was even awarded the Man of the Match award for his performance during Roma’s Europa Conference League final win.
Smalling was solid in the defense and helped Roma keep a clean sheet during their 1-0 win over Feyenoord in Tirana on Wednesday evening.
Fans were quick to take to social media to poke fun at Manchester United and praise Smalling for his performance.
The32-year-old defender was awarded the Man of the Match award for his performance during Roma’s Europa Conference League final win
One fan Tweeted saying: ‘Chris Smalling left Man United as a finished player and now he’s won the MOTM in a Cup final.’ Another added: ‘Moral of the story: Leave Man United if you still want to be great.’
While one supporter wrote: ‘Nah Smalling is literally 10 times the player Harry Maguire is’.
Smalling was delighted with the recognition he received. Speaking after the game, he told BT Sport: ‘We knew how much it was going to mean to everybody in Rome, and you can see how together we are, everybody fought until the end.
‘We had to do that on a few occasions this year (fighting hard), we dropped a bit deeper than we maybe wanted to but we knew we had to do everything.
‘You could see, strikers running back, everybody defending and we knew we had to win. Even when I first came to the club it had been a long time since they won a trophy, you can hear the fans. We knew how much it was going to mean, you can see we’ve got some of the best fans. ‘
Abraham struggled for a place in Chelsea starting XI under manager Thomas Tuchel
As a result, he decided to leave the Premier League giants to sign for Roma permanently
Meanwhile, Tammy Abraham became the third Englishman to play for Roma when he joined from Chelsea in August 2021. His move to the Italian side saw him follow in the footsteps of Ashley Cole and Smalling.
Abraham joined Roma on a five-year deal worth £ 34million after struggling to cement a regular place in Chelsea’s starting XI.
During his career at Chelsea, Abraham spent time on loan at Bristol City in England’s second division – where he scored 23 league goals in 41 appearances.
He also played for Swansea City in the Premier League – where he scored his first top-flight goal.
Abraham even featured for Aston Villa in the Championship – where he scored 25 goals in 37 appearances to help them secure promotion.
But, Abraham struggled to impress Thomas Tuchel and was frozen out of the Chelsea squad soon after the German manager arrived in January 2021.
Tammy Abraham became the third Englishman to play for Roma when he joined from Chelsea
Abraham vowed to help Roma reach a final and claim silverware when he signed from Chelsea
He failed to make the starting line-up on several occasions and was omitted from the squad for Chelsea’s Champions League and FA Cup finals.
As a result of his lack of game-time, Abraham made the decision to leave Chelsea for Roma. Abraham also said the option to play under Mourinho drew him to the club – and it comes as no surprise considering his revival under the Portuguese manager.
Abraham has excelled since arriving in Rome. He has featured 53 for the Italian side this season – scoring 27 goals and registering five assists.
Abraham – who has become Roma’s top goal scorer for the 2021-2022 campaign – vowed to help the Italian side reach a final and claim silverware when he signed from Chelsea.
He has now delivered on that promise – having helped Roma win the Europa Conference League final in Tirana on Wednesday evening.
Speaking about his achievement after the game, Abraham told reporters: ‘One thing I said when I came here was I was going to help the team get to the final and one day I want to win a trophy. In my first season I have achieved that.
Fans suggested that Jose Mourinho has taught the striker the ‘dark arts’ in Rome
Abraham went down following a challenge and winked towards the bench while on the ground
‘Credit to my team-mates, excellent performances. We deserve it. We have worked hard all year. I love them (the fans). From day one I came here it has been the best. We are champions, I am happy to be a part of the team, now it is time to celebrate and enjoy.
‘Even when I first came to the club it had been a long time since they won a trophy, you can hear the fans. We knew how much it was going to mean, you can see we’ve got some of the best fans. ‘
Fans have taken to social media to joke that Mourinho had taught the 24-year-old ‘dark arts’ of time wasting.
Roma were looking to see out a 1-0 win against an increasingly adventurous Feyenoord side on Wednesday night.
As a result, the England striker bought his defenders some much-needed respite with some intelligent forward play when he was brought down.
With the cameras focused in on Roma’s top scorer this season, Abraham looked to the bench while clutching his shin before winking.
Ainsley Maitland-Niles also joined Roma on loan from Arsenal but has failed to rise to stardom
Ainsley Maitland-Niles also joined Roma on loan from Arsenal but has failed to rise to stardom like Abraham and Smalling. Instead, he was an unused substitute during the Europa Conference League final in Tirana.
The Englishman joined the Italian outfit in the January transfer window until the end of the season, but struggled to prove his worth to Mourinho.
As a result, the Portuguese manager decided to play the likes of Rick Karsdorp and Nicola Zalewski ahead of him.