Villarreal News: Mediterraneo ran a series of interviews post-Europa League final, and at Villarrealnews.com, and giving all the credit to the local newspaper from Castellon, we curate this one-on-one with Fernando Roig as he describes the finals, moments after, and what’s coming next for Villarreal.
Ismael Mateu: After so many years the title is here. On top of that, the first title is the Europa League. Who is it dedicated to, and who are you remembering right now?
Fernando Roig: There are so many who are part of the Villarreal family whom we want to share this title with: players, board, all kinds of staff. From the first one to the last one, all those who have come and gone through this club, they all have set the groundwork for achieving this Europa League title.
IM: What portion of this success is Unai Emery’s and the players?
FR: All of it. We have been lucky to have a great manager and squad to bring this success home. We wanted a winning manager, and Unai Emery is one of them. He has been surrounded by competitive, engaged, winning players. They are something to be proud of.
IM: What do you think was the key to win this title?
FR: Honestly, the concept of the group. The team and staff are all one. They are very professional, and have met the expectations perfectly. I have seen a locker that was extremely bought into this project. Now, after this success, it is time to enjoy and celebrate. Everyone who is part of this family has earned that.
IM: Did you expect to go all the way this season?
FR: We have always said that we are an ambitious entity, but with our feet on the ground. In this club, the philosophy is always the same one.
We started with the objective of staying in the First Division; we did that. After that, we needed to qualify to play in Europe next year, and we did that also. Through the European competition we participated in, we wanted to get as far as possible.
This season, the stars have aligned to achieve an amazing objective: winning the Europa League, and playing in the Champions League; in Group 1 of the drawing as well. On top of that, we will play the Supercup.
IM: The money the club is going to receive for winning the Europa League is important, along with many other benefits. What a reward for this win!
FR: It’s funny, the Europa League has more of a prize than finishing fourth in La Liga, but it’s true that it is very complicated to win it. Beyond the revenue for winning the final, there is also the prize of playing the Champions League next year, and the money for playing in the Supercup and fighting that final, our second final ever.
IM: That’s right, to the Champions League we go!
FR: For the fourth time in our history we will be in this tournament, and that is a source of pride for the club, the fans, the city of Vila-real, and for the entire province of Castellon.
IM: Do you think that lifting this trophy is the last push needed to transformationally increase our social mass?
FR: The feeling people have in Vila-real and the province of Castellon for Villarreal is real. I’ll repeat–there is a feeling. Villarreal is a feeling, and the owners of the club are all those people who think and feel in yellow. The only thing we try to do is to lead well, to work hard, and through that effort, achieve success, like it has happened this year.
IM: You are now the sport’s top representative in the Valencian Community. The Yellow Submarine is the flagship of Valencian sport. Are you proud?
FR: Of course. This is a global success, for the entire province, and for all valencianos. The people from the Valencian Community need to believe in what they have. We believed in ourselves, and we got a trophy as important as the Europa League. But to grow, and to believe is for all of us to do.
We have to be a common front between valencianos. It is convenient for all of us that Elche stays in La Liga, that Castellon comes back to the Second Division, that Hercules builds back up, and for all of us together to make the Valencian Community bigger.
IM: Looking back to a few days ago…how hard was it to miss the final? Did you suffer a lot throughout the match?
FR: Yes, it was very hard. I had to come back from Poland. I went there and in order not to make it a thing with UEFA, we decided that the best thing was to go back to Spain. What would I have done there anyway? I went back home and I suffered, watching the match with my wife. Getting through the penalties…but all that suffering was worth it. We are champions.
IM: Which was the moment of the match in which you suffered the most?
FR: For me, it was Rulli’s save. The moment he stopped the penalty we were able to rest and enjoy, because we had scored our penalty beforehand, and the match was over. We suffered a lot.
IM: You’ve played a final, you are going to play another one, and you have a trophy on the shelves. Would you say that Villarreal is here to stay?
FR: We’re always arriving at places to stay.We have always worked hard to build competitive projects, being clear that the first thing is to stay in the First Division, and after that, whatever else we can achieve.
IM: Is this the result of so many years of work and sacrifice?
FR: No doubt. After more than 23 years, a lot of happy moments, some sad ones, like Roman’s penalty, the last relegation…it was time we experienced something as wonderful as this. We have worked hard to have a great youth system, an ambitious project and a magnificent stadium to play in the Champions League next season.
IM: The project of the club is to be envious of. Do you agree?
FR: It is a privilege to have this squad and to have won the Europa League with so many youth players, and with most of them being Spaniards. It is a reflection of doing things right. And all that is thanks to the work of the Managing Director, Fernando Roig Negueroles, who has created a winning project.
IM: What do you foresee for the future?
FR: For the future? Same as always, we want more, and better. The team needs to be more, and better than this year. Villarreal does not settle, and never will.