Emery the talk of his home town in Barca clash

Unai Emery's meteoric rise as a coach began at the age of 32 at Lorca. He went on to win three straight Europa League titles with Sevilla from 2014-2016, catching the eye of the PSG power-brokers.
Unai Emery's meteoric rise as a coach began at the age of 32 at Lorca. He went on to win three straight Europa League titles with Sevilla from 2014-2016, catching the eye of the PSG power-brokers.PHOTO: AFP

FUENTERRABIA (Spain) • A proud Basque, Unai Emery takes part every year in his home town's commemoration of a famous victory over the French, but today he will be very much in the French camp.

The Spanish coach will be looking to lead Paris Saint-Germain to the quarter-finals of the Champions League with a win over Barcelona at the Nou Camp.

And this time, Emery's home town of Fuenterrabia will be supporting the French.

The 45-year-old prays at the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe overlooking the fishing port on the Basque coast, according to his friends.

Every year he attends festivities there in early September to mark the victory in 1638 over French forces who laid siege to Fuenterrabia.

Football is a family business for Emery, who started playing on the town's football pitches, near the picturesque port and houses with coloured terraces where the Ikurrina Basque flag often hangs.

His grandfather won the Spanish Cup twice with Irun and his father played for Deportivo La Coruna.

But Emery was never a top player, having got stuck in the Real Sociedad reserve team during five seasons at the club.

He did play five first-division games in 1995-1996 but then moved to second-division teams Toledo, Ferrol and Leganes.

Emery's meteoric rise as a coach began at the age of 32 at Lorca. He went on to win three straight Europa League titles with Sevilla from 2014-2016, catching the eye of the PSG power-brokers.

PSG believe that this year is their best chance yet of getting at least to the Champions League semi-finals for the first time.

"Unai is a very competitive coach," said Mikel Jauregui, who was Emery's assistant when he was coach at Valencia and Spartak Moscow. "He is a worker, passionate, who thinks about football 24 hours a day."

He is backing Emery to become a legend among European managers.

"I don't know with which team, but I am convinced that he is going to win the Champions League."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 08, 2017, with the headline 'Emery the talk of his home town in Barca clash'. Print Edition | Subscribe