De Zerbi: One of the best days in my career

Head coach reflects on history-making win over Southampton.

By Bruce Talbot • 21 May 2023

By Paul Hazlewood
Roberto De Zerbi says Albion will be looking to finish the season strongly at Villa Park.

An emotional Roberto De Zerbi described leading Albion into Europe for the first time in the club’s history as one of the greatest moments of his career.

Albion sealed certain qualification for the Europa Conference League with a 3-1 win over Southampton at the Amex, and they will be in the Europa League unless there is a 14-goal swing in Aston Villa’s favour in our final two games against Manchester City on Wednesday before the final-day trip to Villa Park.

After taking the acclaim of thousands of delighted Albion fans during a lap of appreciation De Zerbi said, “It’s incredible. One of the best days in my career and I am really proud to be the coach of this club with these players and these fans. We won together.

“I can’t explain my emotions but I can say my players are a of very high level, they are fantastic players and fantastic people. They deserve to qualify for Europe.”

Asked to single out a moment when he thought he could lead Albion into Europe, De Zerbi recalled the 1-1 draw at Crystal Palace in February.

By Paul Hazlewood
The players sprint to towards Pascal Gross after he scored our third goal.

“After the game with Palace away I understood it could be a season where we could achieve an historic target which then was the Champions League.

“We didn’t win the game, but my players were very sad in the dressing room. I spoke with them after the game and it was then I understood the character of my players. In April and May we have played 14 games and we have endured a very tough period and lost a lot of players to injury, but when you have something inside you push yourself to your target.”

De Zerbi praised two-goal Ferguson, who took his tally to ten with two first-half goals before Pascal Gross drew level with Glenn Murray as our joint top scorer in the Premier League with his 26th goal for the club.

“Ferguson’s improvement has been incredible," added De Zerbi. "He’s playing like an old player but he is only 18. There is a good dressing room with the mentality to help all our younger players, Gilmour, Colwill, Enciso and Buonanotte – we are a very strong team.”