There was a day when Unai Emery’s mindset changed forever. It was the summer of 2013. The Basque coach planned the season at Sevilla with the then president, José María del Nido. “I told him that the objective was to enter the Champions League, as he had done in Valencia. Then, Del Nido asked me if I had ever won a title, if I had celebrated it … And now I understand why he was telling me ”, Emery himself recalled in an interview three months after facing the final of the League with Sevilla Europe 2016 against Liverpool.
During his time in the Andalusian entity, Emery was forging a winning character that has made him win 11 titles in the different clubs he has trained between 2014 and 2021. There have been three consecutive Europa League cups with Sevilla, one League, two League Cups, two Cups and two French Super Cups with PSG and this new Europa League now with Villarreal (he also played the final of the Europa League in 2019 with Arsenal, losing 4-1 to Chelsea ).
“He is an obsessive and hard-working coach,” they say from that same Seville where Emery changed his mentality. Valencia had left him third classified in 2010, 2011 and 2012, but without winning any title. “Call touch silver and that he tasted first at Sevilla. Villarreal signed him to take that leap and he has fulfilled it ”, clarify the same sources of the Andalusian club. From Sevilla his ability to play the key in the psychological aspect stands out. “The footballer is not bored with the video when he wins,” they add. Emery repeated in the Villarreal final preview the same gestures and rituals that he had with Sevilla in the previous final in Turin 2014 at Benfica, Warsaw 2015 against Dnipro and Basel 2016 with Liverpool. The huddle with the players and their appeal in the speech to the importance of the path traveled are common in their activation manual.
Then choose messages within a more defined context. He spoke to the Villarreal players about the town of Pau, his international center-back and the only player born in the town of Castellón itself. Before the crash, he allowed Vicente Iborra, one of the captains, to take the lead in the final harangue. Iborra could not play the final because he was injured. He was part of Sevilla that won those three European Leagues with the Basque.
“I’m sure that any scenario that Villarreal faced in the final was already planned in advance by Unai. He studies every detail on video and then takes it to the field, ”Coke, current Levante player and three times also winner of the Europa League with Emery at Sevilla, tells this newspaper, like Iborra. “He is a coach who gives you special confidence and motivation for this type of game. It convinces you to give the highest level, to make the best possible game. Besides the tactical aspect, he and his team work a lot on the mental aspect in the finals. It reminded me of what happened in our final in Turin, against Benfica, where, suffering, as always, and on penalties, we won the Europa League. It was a well deserved victory for Villarreal ”, he adds.
He surprised the Sevilla players with a call to teammate Krohn-Dehli in the locker room just before facing Liverpool in the 2016 Europa League final. The Dane had been seriously injured in the semi-final match against Shakhtar . The talk to lift the group with a 0-1 at halftime in favor of the English team is still remembered in Sevilla. The team had not been able to win away from home in all of 2016 in La Liga. “We are not in Basel, this is Sánchez Pizjuán and we have our people outside,” said Emery. Sevilla won 3-1, with two goals from Coke and one from Gameiro.
“Star no. I have 17 Manchester United matches analyzed. This is work, nothing more ”, clarified Emery himself as soon as the first European title in the history of Villarreal was consummated. Only two active Spanish coaches, Pep Guardiola (31) and Rafael Benítez (13), have won more titles than the Basque (11), Villarreal’s first European title is the fourth for Emery, absolute king of the Europa League, where They have passed 21 qualifiers in a row since April 2012, when they lost in the semifinals to Valencia against Atlético de Madrid.