“You would like to win the Champions League, wouldn’t you?”
It was September 2014, and I was attending the UEFA Elite Coaches Forum in Nyon, Switzerland (below). The man asking me the question was Sir Alex Ferguson.
I had been invited to Nyon to talk about the Europa League, which a few months earlier I had won for the first time with Sevilla.
My relationship with the competition had started when it was still called the UEFA Cup, in the 2008/09 season. I was coach of Valencia when I had my first opportunity to be a contender, but we went out to Dynamo Kyiv in the last 16.
It was from then that the process to turn the competition into the Europa League started. First, by allowing teams from smaller leagues to take part – I think the right decision by UEFA – and then, from the 2015/16 season, by presenting the champions with not only a European trophy, but also entry into the following season’s Champions League.