2001: A Decade Retrospective. Part 1: Prologue

The last play of the 2011 season marked the end of a remarkable ten years for Sevilla. It was a decade of hard-earned (and not merely bought) success improbably forged in the fires of failure, a success the modern game has perhaps never seen before, and will likely never see again, as trophies are increasingly purchased off the field. In today’s preview to a retrospective of this decade, we consider the club’s situation in the months before returning to La Liga in the 2001-02 season.

The summer months leading up to the start of the 2001 season were exciting, heady times for Sevilla FC. After celebrating the end of the previous decade by finishing last place in La Liga (and earning just 28 points), new coach Joaquín Caparrós won the Segunda División and promotion back to the first division in the 2000-01 season. Also giving cause for optimism, newly installed athletic director Monchi showed some promise as a man with a keen eye for developing talent. After the embarrassing relegation season of ’99, it appeared that winning ways had returned to the Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán.

The new faces in management weren’t the only reason to believe better times were coming, though: 16-year-old cantera product José Antonio Reyes had been promoted to the first team for the successful Segunda campaign, and the reports were that he was a special talent, perhaps the future of the club. Further, in preparation for the return to top flight action, the team had acquired center back Javi Navarro, who at 27 years old figured to lend the relatively young team some wisdom and veteran experience. The pieces of a special team were beginning to come together, and while the goal for the coming season would be simply to avoid relegation, it was clear that many in the organization had their eyes on much greater feats…