Shropshire Star

Proud Unai Emery hails 'special day' as Aston Villa Champions League qualification confirmed

Proud boss Unai Emery hailed a “very special day” as Villa secured qualification for the Champions League.

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Tottenham’s 2-0 home defeat to title-chasing Manchester City on Tuesday night guaranteed Villa a fourth place finish and return to Europe’s elite club competition for the first time since 1983.

Emery, his staff and players watched events in north London unfold at the club’s end of season awards.

Later, the head coach took to the stage to address a room at Villa Park which also included several hundred supporters.

Emery alluded to the chronic injury problems which saw Villa lose Emi Buendia, Tyrone Mings, Boubacar Kamara and Jacob Ramsey to campaign-ending injuries.

He said: “It’s a very special day. It’s our dream. We were thinking at the start of the season it was our first objective and the most difficult because there were seven teams more contenders than us to be there. We focused on the Premier League strongly.

“It is the worst players when you have players behind you injured but they were always in our mind.

“Always the team were focused strongly and committed to the objective we had. Today we got it. It is fantastic really.”

Villa will be the sixth club Emery has managed in the Champions League after Valencia, Spartak Moscow, Sevilla, Paris St-Germain and Villarreal.

He said: “To play Champions League, after Premier League, is the best. You can play in England and in the Premier League against the best teams in the world.

“In the Champions League you are playing against the best teams in other countries.

“We are respectful of the history here and we know the history here of Aston Villa is so long and successful.

“We knew our responsibility was to increase the levels, to be demanding and to dream.

“Of course, to win the Champions League like Aston Villa did in 1982 - if we are in it, it is more realistic than if we are not!

“It is another dream and the most important thing is to have dreams. Of course, I am very happy. Very proud of the fans, very proud of the players and everybody. Next year, the new challenges start for us.”