Villarreal head coach Unai Emery expressed his pride and satisfaction after exacting revenge on former club Arsenal as the Spanish side sensationally reached the Europa League final.
For the first time in Villarreal's history, they will contest a major European final following Thursday's goalless draw at Arsenal, which secured a 2-1 aggregate triumph.
Emery guided Arsenal to the Europa League final in 2019 before he was sacked by the Gunners in November that year, replaced by fellow Spaniard Mikel Arteta in London.
But Emery had the last laugh on Thursday after ending Villarreal's European drought – the Yellow Submarine had been eliminated in each of their previous four semi-finals, Europa League semis in 2004, 2011 and 2016 and the Champions League final four in 2006.
Since the competition's rebranding in 2009-10, Emery has reached the Europa League final on more occasions than any other head coach (five – 2014, 2015, 2016, 2019 and 2021). The Spaniard has won the trophy on three of the previous four occasions he has reached the showpiece, all with Sevilla.
"It means satisfaction and pride," Emery told reporters post-match. "Satisfaction for the job done, and pride for this project of Villarreal of 23 years, with Fernando Roig [president] on top.
"They were in a semi-finals of Champions League and three of Europa League and they were missing to make a step forward.
"The demand was high and the difficulty was big too, so It makes us very proud to get it this time. And also making happy people who were sad previously when they didn’t reach it, make us very proud."
Premier League giants Manchester United await in the Europa League final in Gdansk on May 26.
Villarreal remain unbeaten in 14 games in European competition (W12 D2), last suffering defeat in April 2019 (2-0 against Valencia in the Europa League quarter-final second leg).
"It is true the main candidate of this competition was Manchester United since the beginning," Emery said. "And they've showed it by reaching the final. We were contenders and they have been other candidates who got out in the way like it was Arsenal.
"We have played two good matches, in the first leg we took the chance on being up in the score. We made a really serious performance, with some great time of the game, and probably getting a shorter advantage than we deserved it. After we did another serious performance tonight."