Aston Villa qualify for the UEFA Champions League

Tottenham Hotspur’s defeat at home to Manchester City on Tuesday night meant Aston Villa officially claimed fourth spot and a place in the UEFA Champions League next season.
Aston Villa v Liverpool FC - Premier League
Aston Villa v Liverpool FC - Premier League / Copa/GettyImages

For a number of weeks now Villa have had the chance to make it mathematically impossible to be caught by their rivals in the top four race, but the opportunities have passed them by. The last two evenings however that saw Villa draw with Liverpool and Spurs lose to City means Villa's place in the most elite competition in club football was confirmed. Villa have qualified for this competition for the first time in over forty years.

Erling Haaland
Tottenham Hotspur v Manchester City - Premier League / Marc Atkins/GettyImages

Whilst Tottenham were out on the pitch trying to salvage their own hopes of qualifying, the Villa players, staff and a handful of supporters were at Villa Park to celebrate their season at the End of Season Awards. With the game playing on the big screen whilst the awards evening proceeded, it was a rather fitting way to celebrate the incredible performances this season.

Many images and videos have been released on social media showing the celebrations in the room as Haaland buried the City penalty that sealed Villa's fate. Champagne corks flying everywhere!

It was an evening that will live long in the memory for everyone associated with the football club. To see the club go from the Championship to the Champions League in just five years is something that the fans couldn’t have ever dreamt of.

Of course, two men did have this dream and set out a five year plan when they bought the club in 2018. Wes Edens and Nassef Sawiris had that ambition, and those ambitions have now been achieved.

Nassef Sawiris, Wes Edens
Aston Villa v West Ham United - Pre-Season Friendly / Stu Forster/GettyImages

Many spoke on the night to celebrate the achievements this season and Head Coach Unai Emery had this to say at the end of the evening:

"It is a very special day. It's our dreams, we started the season to be here. Next year the new challenge starts for us and I always want to enjoy with the supporters. The supporters are the heart of the club."

Unai Emery

One of Villa’s all-time great success stories, John McGinn, standing alongside Tyrone Mings, also had his say on Villa’s incredible journey to the Champions League:

"We were at the club in the Championship – us two, baby Jacob and Kortney. We get into the Premier League and we were seven points behind with four to play – we managed to stay up. We kept building and we have achieved something that we haven't done for 40 years."

John McGinn

McGinn was signed by Dean Smith for a measly fee of £2.75 million back in August 2018 from Hibernian. McGinn's passions and determination on the pitch quickly made him a fan favourite and he was a detrimental figure in helping to secure promotion back to the top flight.

It was his goal against Derby Country at Wembley that saw Villa secure that promotion. He then carried on this great form into the Premier League before suffering a fractured ankle that kept him on the sidelines for six months. Tough times then followed under previous management and both the fans and McGinn himself questioned whether he should remain at the club.

18 months on and McGinn has captained the club over the course of a 50+ game season that has seen Villa reach a Europa Conference League semi final and qualify for the Champions League next season. Some might say that is legendary status achieved.

John McGinn
Aston Villa v Derby County - Sky Bet Championship Play-off Final / Malcolm Couzens/GettyImages

Whilst the celebrations regarding qualification were ongoing, awards were provided to celebrate individual success throughout the season. Ollie Watkins picked up the Player’s and Supporters Player of the Season following an incredible campaign. Watkins, as it stands, has a total of 40 combined goals and assists across all competitions.

Jhon Duran was awarded Goal of the season as fired by supporters for his firecracker of a strike in the victory over Crystal Palace back in September. Emi Martinez was also recognised with an award to celebrate his achievement of winning the Yashin Trophy that is awarded annually to the world's best keeper.

Ollie Watkins
Aston Villa v Liverpool FC - Premier League / Alex Pantling/GettyImages

The events of last night now means Villa and the fans can enjoy Sundays visit to Selhurst Park without any pressure or worry that points are needed to secure fourth spot. Once the game is complete and the season draws to an end, Unai Emery, Monchi and the rest of the staff group will turn their attention to the transfer window and seeing what quality they can bring in to boost this squad. In order to compete both in the league and amongst Europe's elite next season, greater depth through the squad will most definitely be required.

For the time being, the club and its supporters can enjoy the moment and soak in the success that they have achieved under Emery since his arrival 18 months ago. Under his coaching and management that involves such detail and precision in his preparation for each game, Villa have climbed from -7th to 4th in a year and a half. Unai, we thank you with all our hearts.

Unai Emery
Aston Villa v Liverpool FC - Premier League / Alex Pantling/GettyImages