Aston Villa reach Champions League for first time

Unai Emery

Aston Villa have qualified for the Champions League for the first time after top-four rivals Tottenham Hotspur lost to Manchester City on Tuesday.

Tottenham had been the only team that could have overtaken Villa into fourth before Tuesday, but are now five points behind Unai Emery’s side with one game remaining.

Villa have not reached Uefa’s premier club competition since it rebranded from the European Cup to the Champions League in 1991-92.

They last played in the European Cup 41 years ago, in 1982-83 having won the competition the season before.

Villa did finish second and fourth in the Premier League in 1992-93 and 1995-96 respectively, but in both seasons, only first was good enough to reach the Champions League.

Celebrations at club awards night

Villa’s players and staff were holding their annual awards night at Villa Park on Tuesday night and celebrated as the result at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium was confirmed.

The club posted photos on social media, external of Emery and the players cheering and spraying champagne.

“It’s a very special day,” Emery said. “It’s our dream, we started the season to be here. We’ve had injuries but the team was always focused. It’s fantastic. To play in the Champions League is the best.”

“Nobody expected us to be there but we believed in ourselves and believed in our dream,” wrote defender Lucas Digne on Instagram, external. “It was hard but the achievement is amazing.”

Centre-half Diego Carlos added, external: “After more than four decades, we are back in the Champions League. We are experiencing a historic season! Up the Villa!”

Fans, including the Prince of Wales, who was at Villa’s recent match against Olympiakos, also celebrated the news.

“We are Champions League!” he wrote on X, external. “A historic season and an amazing achievement. Thanks to Unai, the whole squad and everyone at Aston Villa. Can’t wait for next season.”

Emery turns Villa’s fortunes round

Aston Villa appointed manager Emery in October 2022 with the Villains 14th in the Premier League, three points from the relegation zone.

The Birmingham-based club had finished their previous two seasons in 14th and 17th and had been playing in the Championship just three years earlier in 2019.

But Emery has turned Villa’s fortunes around. Only Manchester City, Liverpool and Arsenal have collected more Premier League points than Villa since the Spaniard took charge.

And he is set to manage his sixth different club in the Champions League after Valencia, Spartak Moscow, Sevilla, Paris St-Germain and Villarreal.

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