What's So Special about Sevilla FC?

What indeed is so special about Sevilla Fc? Nothing, it seems on paper. But they are the current holders of three major trophies: the UEFA Cup, the Copa del Rey, and the Spanish Super Cup. They are, infact, the two time defending UEFA Cup champions (2005-06, 2006-07) beating elite opposition along the way. The history books will show you that the club started in 1905, that they play at the 45,000 capacity Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan stadium and that they finished 3rd in La Liga last year behind Real Madrid & Barcelona. That from 1915 they have been involved in one of the most violent football derbies whenever they play their cross-town bitter rivals Real Betis (which was created by a rival faction within Sevilla itself).

And there is the sad death of Sevilla defender Antonio Puerta. On the first day of the Spanish League 2007/2008 season, Sevilla were playing Getafe CF when Antonio Puerta began walking towards his goal area, keeled over, placed his hands on his knees, and collapsed onto his back. His teammates and Sevilla medical staff came to aid him to make sure of him not swallowing his tongue. He was revived and substituted. In the dressing room afterwards, he collapsed again. He was hospitalized and after 3 days in hospital (in which he was in a ‘critical condition’ and his health was ‘unfavourable’) reports came from the Spanish media that Puerta had died. These reports were later confirmed. As a mark of respect for his passing, players from Seville and AC Milan wrote “Puerta” on their shirts during the European Super Cup match on 31st August 2007. Furthermore, as Milan went on to win the match, no jubilation was done as a sign of respect for the grief sustained by Sevilla, as the win was dedicated to Puerta.

When Sevilla played AEK Athens in Greece on Monday, in the qualifying stages for the Champions League, a minute silence was observed at the stadium while flags flew at half mast and images of Puerta & the damages caused by the Greek forest fires, which claimed 64 lives last week were shown on the giant screen. The matched ended in a 4-1 victory for Sevilla (6-1 on aggregate) who will now play in the Champions League for the very first time. And they will face my Arsenal side in the group stages. I hope they do well.

Sevilla FC are a great club with character & team spirit, as they shown in recent years. They may not have star names in their side : Goalie Andres Palop, defender & captain Javi Navarro, striker Freddie Kanoute & defender Khalid Boulahrouz (on loan from Chelsea) are the only names that I, as a regular follower of European football from 1998, know off. But they will be one to watch and they are proof that the Spanish league is a whole lot more than just Barcelona, Real Madrid, Valencia & Deportivo La Coruna.

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