Frederic Kanoute: Former Sevilla striker praises ‘amazing’ Unai Emery

Story highlights

Kanoute played seven seasons at Sevilla

He won successive Europa League trophies

Mali international praises 'passionate' Emery

Former Sevilla boss won three Europa Leagues

CNN  — 

Frederic Kanoute knows how to win European competitions.

The Mali international won back-to-back UEFA Cup trophies with Sevilla between 2006-2007 and has wonderful memories of that “amazing” time.

In 2009 the UEFA Cup was rebranded as the Europa League and Kanoute believes his former side can once again win the tournament this season though he knows Sevilla faces strong competition, notably from English Premier League club Arsenal.

Kanoute says his dream final would involve Sevilla reuniting with “top coach” Unai Emery – now manager of Arsenal.

Emery won three successive Europa League trophies during three years in Seville and has recovered well from a difficult start at the Emirates.

Arsenal lost their first two Premier League games, but then won the next seven and are just two points behind leaders Manchester City. In all competitions, Arsenal have won 11 consecutive games.

Their latest win was a 1-0 victory against Sporting Lisbon in the Europa League on Thursday, sending Emery’s team three points clear of the Portuguese side in Group E.

“With his experience personally and the experience of Sevilla as a club in the Europa League, it would be a fun and interesting final,” Kanoute recently told CNN Sport of the possibility of Arsenal and Sevilla facing each other at the conclusion of the competition.

Frederic Kanoute won back-to-back UEFA Cup trophies with Sevilla.

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The Spaniard took charge of Sevilla the season after Kanoute left for Chinese outfit Beijing Guoan but the forward knows first-hand just how good a coach he is.

“I was visiting my ex-teammates when I had retired and I saw the way he was coaching. His passion, his dedication, it’s really, really amazing. The way he is coaching his team, he is really passionate about the game.”

Unai Emery has seemingly turned a corner at Arsenal this season.

Spurs win ‘special’

But when reflecting on his own glittering career, it’s not just the successive European titles that stand out for Kanoute.

Before moving to Spain, he played in the English Premier League for both West Ham and Tottenham.

The forward’s time in England was mixed and he struggled at White Hart Lane before moving away in 2005.

He returned two years later in the Europa League with Sevilla and put a few demons to rest.

“I mean it’s a fantastic club [Tottenham] and for me it was a personal challenge. I scored in both games, home and away, and we kicked them out,” he told CNN.

“I loved Tottenham but it was like a personal thing. I really enjoyed both games so it was a special moment.”

Beating former club Tottenham is one of Kanoute's most special European memories.

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Sevilla fans on ‘another level’

Kanoute scored 136 goals in 290 appearances for Sevilla. The seven years spent in La Liga was the longest time he served at a club and he says the fans played a big part in his experience.

“It’s just amazing. The chanting, singing, 90 minutes they are pushing you, traveling with you all the time. It’s just a completely different experience.”

It’s the derby games against bitter rivals Real Betis that really stand out in the Kanoute’s memory.

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“It’s just another atmosphere, another ambiance in the stadium. If these two meet in the Europa League it would be crazy.”

“I remember even before the derby against Betis it was crazy. We were preparing for the game two weeks before, sometimes going on camp the week before to prepare.”

“I remember we were coming back from the camp, playing at home. The fans were waiting for us and blocking the bus from 10 kilometers before arriving at the stadium, just to encourage us.”

On Thursday, Sevilla beat Akhisarspor 6-0 and top Group J on goal difference.