Sevilla’s dominance in the Uefa Cup/Europa League over the last 15 years has pretty much established them as a top tier European club.
During that time, the Andalusian side were crowned champions five times, but while their three-peat between 2014 and 2016 looms larger due to it being recent, their first two triumphs – in 2006 and 2007 – truly made them a force to reckoned with.
Some of the players in that side who helped secure that feat include Dani Alves, Seydou Keita, Luiz Fabiano, Javier Saviola, Jesus Navas and Enzo Maresca.
They were spearheaded by French-born Mali international Freddie Kanoute and trained by Juande Ramos, who would eventually manage Real Madrid.
The Andalusian side’s 2011/12 season started on a positive note as they were contesting their 11th consecutive season in LaLiga and eighth consecutive participation in Europe.
Sevilla enjoyed a strong start only suffering just two defeats by December, but they hit a rough patch in the New Year, ultimately seeing coach Marcelino leave the club.
They duly appointed Real Madrid legend Michel to help them rediscover their form. Despite the team’s resurgence it was still not enough to ensure a record ninth straight European qualification at the end of the season.
However, the 2011/12 season is one the fans hold in high regard as it was the last season that their club legend Kanoute donned the famous red and white.
There are not many foreign players in history who have made as big a life-long impression with the club, city and its fans as the Mali international.
As such it was no surprise that his final appearance at the Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan stadium was one for the history books.
Kanoute may have been born in Sainte-Foy-les-Lyon in eastern France, but his Malian roots earned the LaLiga legend the title of African Footballer of the Year in 2007, making him the first non-African-born player to scoop the coveted award.
With numerous trophies under his belt, including two Uefa Cups, two Copa del Reys, one Uefa Super Cup and one Spanish Super Cup, Kanoute had a great run in Europe and went down in history as one of the club’s most iconic players.
He also made Africa proud, representing Mali in three Africa Cup of Nations tournaments. He proved instrumental in leading Les Aigles to the semi-finals in 2004 and finally retired from international football in 2010 with an impressive total of 23 goals in 39 appearances.
After over 280 appearances and 130 goals for Sevilla, 89 of which came in LaLiga, Frederic got his ‘last dance’ at the Sanchez-Pizjuan, and his last goal as a Sevilla player.
In a predominantly one-sided game against Rayo Vallecano, the hosts asserted their dominance after taking the lead early on through Baba Diawara following a devastating counterattack.
The visitors would strike back just six minutes later with Diego Costa making no mistake from the spot.
As the visitors were starting to get back into the game, the hosts struck again, re- taking the lead through David Cobeno to make it 2-1.
Sevilla came out all guns blazing at the beginning of the second half and were rewarded with a third goal through striker Diawara who was now on a hat-trick. The goals kept coming as the hosts added a fourth before the visitors pulled another one back.
The game would be wrapped up when the man of the moment Kanoute made it 5-2 from close range. This is the goal that wrapped up the match and his illustrious time with Sevilla.
After the match, the fans stayed and gave Kanoute a standing ovation to thank him for his service to the club.
He walked through the pitch to thank all of the fans in one of the most emotional moments in the club’s history.
Sevilla finished the season in unfamiliar ninth place and did not qualify for European competition for the first time since 2004. Rayo Vallecano finished 15th and avoided relegation by two points.