Julen Lopetegui was reduced to tears after his Sevilla side won the Europa League trophy by beating Inter Milan 3-2.
The La Liga side won a topsy-turvy final in Cologne on Friday night which saw Sevilla fall behind early on, come back to lead, be pegged back again before scoring a late-winner through Romelu Lukaku’s own goal.
The Sevilla boss went through a difficult period after being acked by both the Spanish national team and Real Madrid in recent years, but couldn’t hide his emotion after he picked up his first managerial trophy since those disappointments.
💔 Sacked by Spain two days before the World Cup
😢 Sacked by Real Madrid after only 4 months
👑 Leads Sevilla to their sixth #UEL title in his first season in charge!
Julen Lopetegui deserves tonight more than anyone 👏pic.twitter.com/XnWpisQvYc
Lopetegui was dismissed by the Spanish Football Federation on the day before the 2018 World Cup in Russia began due to his negotiations with Real Madrid about becoming their new manager after the tournament.
The Spaniard then took the job at the Santiago Bernabeu while Spain were competing at the World Cup, but lasted only four months in the job to due a string of poor results.
Since his Madrid sacking, Lopetegui nearly became the manager of English side Wolverhampton Wanderers and was also reportedly rejected for the role of United States national team coach in 2018.
But he was hired by Sevilla at the start of the 2019-20 season and guided them to a top-four finish in La Liga, while he also masterminded the Europa League success which saw them beat Roma, Manchester United and of course Inter Milan in the final.
After the match, Lopetegui dedicated the trophy win to the Sevilla fans who have lost their lives due to the coronavirus pandemic while also paid tribute to late ex-Sevilla stars Jose Antonio Reyes and Antonio Puerta.
The coach said: ‘My players are very great, they have worked a lot. They have always put hope and desire.
‘It (the Europa League title) goes to Reyes, for Puerta and for all the people who love us. It goes for all the Sevilla players who are in heaven helping us.’
Sevilla fell behind early on through Romelu Lukaku’s penalty but two headers from Luuk De Jong turned the game on its head during the first-half.
Inter Milan defender Diego Godin scored shortly after De Jong’s second to end a thrilling opening period.
The scoreline remained 2-2 before Lukaku’s own-goal nudged Sevilla in front, with the blunder proving to be the winning goal.
It is the sixth time Sevilla have won the Europa League in their history, having won it three years in a row from 2014 to 2017.