"There are jobs where you enjoy suffering," Unai Emery told UEFA.com, the Sevilla coach gearing up for more torment in the final against Liverpool.
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A workaholic who seems to kick every ball with his team, Unai Emery has led Sevilla to a third successive UEFA Europa League final. The 44-year-old talks about the magic of the competition and his footballing philosophy with UEFA.com.
UEFA.com: What is it about Sevilla and the UEFA Europa League?
Unai Emery: Sevilla care about this competition. You have to come up with the goods and rise to the challenge to go a long way in this competition. The fact that this is our third consecutive final demonstrates how focused and hungry we have been to do well in the Europa League, and win it.
UEFA.com: You are up against a Liverpool side with a great European pedigree. Is that inspiring for you as a coach?
Emery: It's a challenge, in the sense of having to face big opponents with a distinguished history, and who currently have a lot of momentum in this competition – which also represents a route into next season's Champions League. There will certainly be a lot of [Liverpool] fans at the final. What motivates us the most is to play a great match against a big team and achieve our objective of winning.
UEFA.com: What do players need to do to sparkle in a final like this one?
Emery: The players see these moments – playing in finals to win titles – as very special. The fact that they can make their names in Spain and in Europe further inspires them to keep developing and improving as professionals. Then there is the emotional aspect. When you play in a final, you have to be able to compete every minute of the way, knowing that there might be moments when the opposition outplay you, and others when maybe you'll be able to impose your game. You need to know how to deal with those situations, negative and positive. That means competing – standing up to be counted throughout the 90 minutes.
UEFA.com: Can you enjoy a final, or is it just too intense?
Emery: Well, there are jobs where you enjoy suffering. Coaches and players know that this is a job in which you find enjoyment by struggling to overcome an opponent – it's a battle, and obviously at times it's not very pleasant. It's pleasant when you're doing a lot better than your opponent, but when it's a very evenly-matched, fiercely-contested fight, that's when it becomes about enjoyment through pain.
UEFA.com: You are always moving around during games. Is that deliberate?
Emery: I've always been active in the dugout. I think it's to try to help the players and support them. That active stance is to drive them on, to give them a positive, active example. It's never to criticise, but rather to help.
UEFA.com: The team has changed over the last three years, but your philosophy has stayed the same. Correct?
Emery: Yes. In football you always have to strike the right balance in terms of adapting to the players you have and getting them to adapt to your ideas. The team have to press aggressively – I like my teams to do that. I also like my teams to dictate games through having control of the ball.
UEFA.com: The emotional bond between this team and the Sevilla fans is incredibly intense. How do you see it?
Emery: Playing in all these finals and winning these titles generated a lot of emotion which makes this a very special time to be at Sevilla. Sevilla are a historic club and have always had good spells, but this period we're going through right now is full of joy and passion that stem from playing in those finals and winning the titles.