Madrid: It was the usual ending for Sevilla in an unusual season for the Spanish soccer club.
Sevilla won the Europa League trophy yet again on Thursday after a season in which it went through coaching changes and had to fight just to avoid relegation in the Spanish league.
The team’s struggles were quickly forgotten with its victory on penalties over Roma in the Europa League final on Wednesday in Budapest, which gave the club a record seventh title in the second-tier European competition.
What looked like a season to forget turned into triumph after another impressive campaign by the Spanish club in the competition where it has been dominant in recent years. Five of its titles came within the last 10 years — 2014-16, 2020 and 2023.
This time, Sevilla eliminated European powerhouses Manchester United in the quarterfinals and Juventus in the semifinals. It had gotten past Fenerbahce and PSV Eindhoven in previous rounds.
On Wednesday, the team beat José Mourinho-coached Roma 4-1 in a penalty shootout after a 1-1 draw.
Sevilla celebrated the title with fans back home Thursday, parading through the streets of Seville on an open bus and making stops to meet with local officials.
Sevilla’s turnaround this season came after the club decided to replace Jorge Sampaoli with José Luis Mendilibar in March. Before Mendilibar arrived, the team had won only twice in eight games in all competitions, with five losses. Since he took over, Sevilla lost only twice in 16 games.
“I’m happy to be here, to have won for the club, which was having a hard time when we got here,” Mendilibar said.
“We have done something good that can have repercussions for the good of the club.”
The coach who had spent a large part of his career with Eibar came on a contract until the end of the season but was expected to stay with Sevilla following his successful stint.
“He transformed us,” said Sevilla defender Jesús Navas, the only player from the current squad who was with the club when it won the Europa League title for the first time in 2006.
“He got the best out of us and the result is there. He deserves to be with this club for a long time.”
Sampaoli had taken over for Julen Lopetegui after the team’s unusually poor start to the season. Sevilla had finished fourth in the league the last three seasons, only behind powerhouses Real Madrid, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid.
This time it is sitting in 11th place entering its final match at Real Sociedad on Sunday, and will only make it to the Champions League again next season thanks to its Europa League title.
Sevilla made it to the Champions League quarterfinals in 2018, but since then had only once advanced past the group stage.
Having to play in the second-tier Europa League has certainly turned out OK for Sevilla, though, and on Thursday it celebrated yet another European title with its fans.