By Simon Peach, PA Chief Football Writer, Gdansk
Etienne Capoue has gone from the Sky Bet Championship to Europa League champion with Villarreal during a “roller coaster” season for the former Watford midfielder.
Many expected the Yellow Submarine to be sunk by Manchester United in Gdansk, yet Unai Emery masterminded the LaLiga club’s first ever major trophy.
After Gerard Moreno’s opener was cancelled out by Edinson Cavani and the match ended 1-1 after extra time, Geronimo Rulli was the hero when saving David De Gea’s penalty to seal a dramatic 11-10 shootout win.
ℹ Étienne Capoue has completed a permanent transfer to @VillarrealCF for an undisclosed fee.
— Watford Football Club (@WatfordFC) December 30, 2020
But it was ex-Spurs midfielder Capoue who was named man of the match at the Stadion Gdansk – a stage far different to playing at the likes of Wycombe and Barnsley earlier this season with Watford.
“Roller coaster, roller coaster,” he said with a grin. “It was a really hard season emotionally for me. Really, really hard.
“I’ve been through a couple of things. It was really hard.
“But everything happens for a reason and I’m just happy and I’m really grateful to be here and to enjoy really this moment.”
— Villarreal CF English (@Eng_Villarreal) May 26, 2021
Capoue joined Villarreal from Watford at the turn of the year and has established himself as an important player under Emery.
“I got the opportunity to come here and ended up lifting the trophy and that’s the most important thing for us,” the 32-year-old said.
“I’m just so happy to win today. The secret of Unai? He’s a big coach. He has nothing to prove any more.
“It’s a masterclass – he showed it again today.”