Three-time consecutive Europa League champions, Sevilla FC were founded in 1905 by José Luis Gallegos. Educated in England, Gallegos was a customs agent at the local port office, where he befriended Adam Wood, whose ship transported sought-after Seville oranges to London.
Once acquainted with Seville’s expat football fraternity, Gallegos and friends soon joined in. Thus UK demand for top-quality marmalade led to the formation of one of Spain’s most venerable football clubs.
Sevilla’s directorship was drawn from the land-owning classes – rivals Betis were founded by dissident members.
Once based at Nervión, under president Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán, Sevilla won the Spanish Cup in 1935. He later planned a new stadium there but didn’t live to see it built. When opened in 1958, it bore his name.
Sánchez Pizjuán did see the title win of 1946. International striker Juan Arza, who scored 200 goals for Sevilla over 16 years, was the hero.
During the 1950s, under coach Helenio Herrera, Sevilla achieved several top-five finishes, competing in the burgeoning European Cup. Real Madrid, the trophy holders who had allowed Sevilla in, beat them 8-0 in the quarter-finals.
With an expensive new stadium, Sevilla sold key players and trod water for two decades. A rare highlight was Gambian winger Alhaji Nije, known as Biri Biri, who came to Sevilla by way of Brian Clough’s Derby. Local fans took him to their hearts, naming their group the Biri-Biris.
Other foreign stars included goalkeeper Renat Dessayev, and strikers Toni Polster and Davor Suker, whose hat-trick kept Sevilla in the Primera in 1996. Diego Maradona, under coach Carlos Bilardo, World Cup winners both in 1986, was disastrous.
The club was in equal disarray, thrown out of La Liga for financial mismanagement. Directors and coaches came and went. Slowly Sevilla turned things round, marking their centenary season with a triumphant run in the UEFA Cup in 2005-06. Under Juande Ramos, with Luis Fabiano, Frédéric Kanouté and Adriano, Sevilla snuck through against Schalke in the semi to destroy Middlesbro 4-0 in the final. They repeated the feat, on penalties over Espanyol, the following year. Sevilla also came close to the Spanish title, won in last-gasp fashion by Real Madrid.
After Sevilla won the Supercopa over Real, defender Antonio Puerta suffered a fatal heart attack during their first league match. Ramos left for Spurs but Sevilla still made it through to the Champions League. Then again, and again. Factor in a Spanish Cup win in 2010, and Sevilla can reflect on the most successful decade in their history.
The return of locally born José Antonio Reyes and goals by Álvaro Negredo kept Sevilla in the hunt. After selling Negredo and Jesús Navas to Manchester City, Sevilla stumbled at first in 2013-14 but recovered to beat Real Madrid and gain fifth place in the league.
In the Europa League, despite vital goals by Carlos Bacca against (of all people) local rivals Betis, Porto and semi-finalists Valencia, Sevilla still trailed 3-2 on aggregate with a place in the final at stake. A late, late, late header from Stéphane Mbia and Valencia were beaten at the death.
In the final in Turin, Bacca and Mbia who converted their penalties in the shoot-out against Benfica – captain Ivan Rakitic, who had put away vital spot-kicks against Betis and Porto, wasn’t needed for a fifth one. The Croat star then went to Barcelona, who sent over former Manchester City Young Player of the Year Denis Suárez in part return.
Bacca was again in prolific form as Sevilla repeated their achievements in 2014-15, retaining the Europa League with an entertaining 3-2 win over a feisty Dnipro and gaining a Champions League spot in the league. As a curtain-raiser to 2015-16, Sevilla played out a 4-5 thriller with Barcelona in the UEFA SuperCup.
Bidding for a third straight Europa League trophy in May 2016, Unai Emery’s Sevilla trailed Liverpool 1-0 at half-time only to strike back with goals from the prolific Frenchman Kévin Gameiro and man-of-the-match captain Coke.
As well as a record three trophies in a row, the win provided Sevilla with a place in the group stage of the 2016-17 Champions League. Narrow victories over Lyon and Zagreb led to a showdown with Leicester – and, after two thrilling games, defeat.
Again qualifying for Europe’s premier trophy in 2017, Sevilla managed high-scoring draws against Liverpool, despite the departure for Jorge Sampaoli for the Argentine national job. After a short stint by Eduardo Berizzo, Vincenzo Montella took over around Christmas 2017 though was soon on the wrong end of an eight-goal derby thriller at home to Betis.
Set in commercial Nervión, the Estadio Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán is one of Spain’s great venues. Named after the club president who conceived it but died before its completion, this 45,500 arena is steeped in football lore.
For the Spanish national team, it holds talismanic properties – they have never lost a game here. The legendary French side starring Michel Platini didn’t lose here either, only the penalty shoot-out with West Germany in the epic World Cup semi-final of 1982. Barcelona, too, lost a shoot-out here to Steaua Bucharest that decided the 1986 European Cup.
After first playing at the Prado de San Sebastián, Sevilla FC moved to the Campo de la Victoria, named after the pub-cum-changing room that sat alongside the Paseo de la Palmera.
In 1928, they moved again, to Nervión, then on the eastern edge of town, today prime real estate near the AVE train station. The Nervión, holding 20,000, served Sevilla for 30 years.
The new stadium alongside, though opened in 1958, wasn’t completed until 1975, in time for the 1982 World Cup. As well as a roof, a key new element was a dramatic mural created by Santiago del Campo, a bright mosaic of badges of visiting clubs, centrepieced by Sevilla’s own logo. Since moved round to face the Nervión Plaza mall, it sets the classic tone for this classic arena.
Rising up in two sets of tiers, the Sánchez Pizjuán comprises a Gol Norte (Calle Luis Arenas Ladislao) and Sur (Avenida Eduardo Dato), a main Preferencia stand with the VIP seating and club offices, and Fondo opposite. Away fans are allocated a pie-slice of seating high in the corner between the Fondo and Gol Sur, Sector 46, gate 11. Home fans occupy both ends, particularly the Gol Norte.
The stadium is between the Nervión and Gran Plaza stops on the new metro system, line 1. From the city centre, walk to Puerta de Jerez (10min from Plaza Nueva) – from there it’s four stops (8min), direction Olivar de Quintos. Several buses also serve the stadium, such as the No.32 from Plaza del Duque, via AVE station Santa Justa. In all, it’s 25-30min from downtown Seville.
The taquillas principales (Mon-Fri 10am-9pm, match days) are by the club shop at the stadium nearest the Hotel Novotel. There is also an online service in English.
Tickets are around €30 behind each goal, Gol Norte will be in most demand, running to €60 for a decent seat on the Preferencia. A slightly cheaper spot in the Fondo opposite should suit most neutrals. Prices rise at least 15% for the visits of Barcelona and Real Madrid.
The Tienda Oficial (Mon-Sat 10am-9pm, match days) at the stadium is a large store nearest the Hotel Novotel. As well as branded alarm clocks, radios and mini CDs of club songs, the Sevigrafía in one corner is where you can get your shirt named and numbered.
The club has a downtown outlet at Calle Francos/Calle Pajaritos.
Bars surround the stadium. On main Avenida Eduardo Dato, after grabbing a sandwich at the Charcutería Sierra Mayor (No.22), fans head to the Cervecería Taramón (No.40), formerly El Tirador de Sevilla, where the individual tabletop beer taps have been replaced by a regular bar interior – with the addition of real pre-match atmosphere.
Up Calle José Luis de Casso, past the Pensión Alfonso XI, you’ll find the Casa de Castilla y León (Nos.12), a friendly bar/restaurant serving treats from León such as air-dried cecina de vaca and Valdeón cheese, every bit as traditional as the Mesón Sierra de Huelva alongside.
Round the corner, at the far end of Calle Luis Arenas Ladislao, at the corner with Calle Benito Mas y Prat, Bodega La Andaluza has gone distinctly upscale but still displays its unique photographic history of Sevilla FC in sepia. Nearby La Espumosa (No.151) is a more standard bar that benefits from its location near the home fans’ entrance to the ground.