Calleja: It has been a beautiful year

Villarreal Coach Javier Calleja is hopeful of building on this season’s fifth-placed finish as he committed his future for another season.

The Yellow Submarine finished their campaign with a 2-2 draw against Real Madrid on Saturday and will compete in the group stages of next season’s Europa League.

The former midfielder spent seven years at the club as a player before coaching their youth team between 2012 and 2017, when he was then promoted to replace the dismissed Fran Escriba in September.

“It has been an intense and beautiful year, but I hope that the next one will be better,” Calleja told reporters, as cited by Estadio Deportivo.

“A lot of things happened this year, I started with the youth team, moved on to Villarreal B and then to the first team, it has been full of emotions of course.

“What I learned this year is that elite football demands more from you every day, that you have to master many fields and also learn to disconnect, because if you do not then it eats you inside.

“You have to recognise what Villarreal have achieved and deserve, because being in Europe every year has a lot of merit and deserves to be valued.

“My feelings are good, we have a better team and want to keep growing, to keep improving.”

Of Calleja’s 43 matches in charge in all competitions, Villarreal have won 20, lost 15 and drawn eight, with 64 goals scored and 53 conceded.

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