The UEFA Europa League is one of the most prestigious football competitions in the world, with teams from across the continent vying for the coveted trophy every season. The 2022/23 season was no exception, and Sevilla’s Jesús Navas emerged as the tournament’s standout player.
Navas, a 37-year-old wing-back, has had a long and storied career in football. He first came to prominence at Sevilla, playing for the club between 2003 and 2013 and winning two UEFA Cups (the predecessor to the Europa League) during that time. He then spent four years at Manchester City, where he won two Premier League titles, before returning to Sevilla in 2017.
In the 2022/23 Europa League, Navas played a pivotal role in helping Sevilla reach the final. In the decider against Roma in Budapest, he produced a teasing cross that Gianluca Mancini could only deflect into his own net, setting the stage for his side to triumph 4-1 on penalties.
Navas’s performances throughout the tournament were nothing short of exceptional. He played in nine matches and provided three assists, while maintaining an impressive passing accuracy of 80.56%. He also covered an average distance of 10.57km per game and clocked a top speed of 30.3km/h.
The UEFA Technical Observer panel, which consists of former players and coaches, took note of Navas’s contributions and named him the 2022/23 Europa League Player of the Season. It was a fitting honour for a player who had already won the tournament three times before, in 2006, 2007 and 2014.
Navas was clearly delighted with the award, but he was also quick to credit his teammates for their role in his success. “I know that ‘never give up’ is this team’s motto,” he said after the final. “That can certainly be seen on the pitch. We are a family. Those of us who have been here for a longer time, the veterans, pass it on because this competition made us great.”
Navas’s achievement is all the more impressive when one considers his age. At 37, he is well past the usual retirement age for footballers, but he has shown no signs of slowing down. His form in the 2022/23 Europa League was up there with anything from his illustrious career, and he has proven that age is just a number.
It remains to be seen what Navas will do next. He has already achieved a great deal in his career, and he may choose to retire on a high note. Alternatively, he may continue to play at the highest level for a few more years. Whatever he decides, there is no doubt that he will go down as one of the greatest players in Sevilla’s history, and one of the most talented wing-backs of his generation.
In summary, Jesús Navas’s selection as the 2022/23 UEFA Europa League Player of the Season is a well-deserved honour. His performances throughout the tournament were exceptional, and he played a key role in helping Sevilla lift the trophy once again. At 37, he continues to defy expectations and show that age is no barrier to success in football. He is a true champion and a credit to the sport.