The Download: Villarreal 2005 Reunion

Villarreal had the brilliant idea to put together five amazing players from Villarreal’s golden era in preparation for the Europa League semifinals this Thursday against…well, Arsenal again. The ex-players talked about that Champions League semifinal against the Gunners, their memories of it, and of that amazing time at Vila-real.

The players were midfielder Marcos Senna, now Villarreal ambassador and who facilitated the chat; left back Martin Arruabarrena, the amazing striker Diego Forlan, ex-Arsenal and Villarreal winger Robert Pires, and mighty Roman Riquelme.

At VillarrealNews, we bring you the main takeaways from the conversation trsanslated into English–enjoy and participate!

I enjoyed so much getting the ball forward and pasing it to Roman to the left side without even looking. I knew where he was the whole time.

I have had a bunch of players ask me for tickets to Thursday’s match, but we can’t let people in because of the pandemic. Some of them are even offering to clean up afterwards if it means coming to watch the game!

Marcos Senna

The players should enjoy the match and know it is 180 minutes, it will be okay

The club needs to get to a final

Martin Arruabarrena

We came into the second leg (in 2005) thinking it was all done, and maybe a bit too confident. We ended up having a really bad time at El Madrigal that night, and after that match, I already knew where I wanted to play next season.

We had played against Madrid and Juventus very well that season, but against Villarreal that night we were plain lucky.

In Highbury, the idea was always to pressure the rivals so they wouldn’t come out. It worked against bigger teams and it worked against Villarreal–but in the second leg at El Madrigal, Villarreal did the same thing to us, and wewere not used to it. We ran a lot behind the ball and that was not what we usually did at Arsenal. If Lehmann had not stopped the penalty, we would have been dead in overtime.

Roman didn’t miss the penalty; Lehmann stopped it. If Villarreal had made it to the final, they would have won it.

After we got to the final, that little shit (Wegner) took me off the pitch!

I was already talking to Villarreal before the final wasa played

Robert Pires

At the first Champions League match of the season, and this was our first season in ever in the competition, (Manuel) Pellegrini told us “We will be in the final.” I thought he was crazy, but as we got closer and closer, I started to believe more and more

I thought that Roman would have scored that penalty, 100%. Roman always scores the penalty–if yuo asked me right now, I would say he would have scored it, no problem.

I choose not to watch these kinds of matches because I get so angry thinking of how close we were. I left it behind

Diego Forlan

I have two teams in my life: Boca and Villarreal. I am a fan of Boca since I was little, and what we did together at Villarreal was amazing

I want to thank everyone at Villarreal…I want them to know that they will never have another Forlan. We qualified to the Champions League to begin with thanks to him and his goals…some of the goals he scored I don’t even think he kn ew how he scored them

There were two amazing players in my teams: Martin Palermo at Boca, and Diego Forlan at Villarreal. I had plan playing soccer, I never got nervous

Villarreal deserves this title; Arsenal has a great team but they do not have a Pires or a Henry

We all keep houses here in the region…we all love Villarreal

It has been 15 years since that match, and it’s a statement to the team that people still remember. All Spanish fans were rooting for us that year. People were so happy and excited that season, it was beautiful

We were convinced we were going to win. I never watched that penalty, or the match, ever again

Roman Riquelme

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