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Valencia Club de Fútbol (also known as Valencia C.F., Valencia or Los Che) is a Spanish professional football club based in Valencia, Spain. They play in La Liga and are one of the most successful and biggest clubs in Spanish football. Valencia have won six La Liga titles, seven Copa del Rey trophies, two Fairs Cups which was the predecessor to the UEFA Cup, one UEFA Cup, one UEFA Cup Winners' Cup, two UEFA Super Cups and two Spanish Super Cups. They have also reached two UEFA Champions League finals in a row, losing to La Liga rivals Real Madrid in 2000 and then German club Bayern Munich in 2001. Valencia were also members of the G-14 group of leading European football clubs. In total, Valencia have reached seven major European finals, winning four of them.
In the all-time La Liga table, Valencia is in 3rd position behind Real Madrid and FC Barcelona. In terms of international titles, Valencia is again the 3rd-most successful behind Real Madrid and Barcelona - these three being the only Spanish clubs to have won five or more international trophies.
Valencia were founded in 1919, and have played their home games at the 55,000-seater Estadio Mestalla since 1923. They are soon to move into the 75,000-seater Nou Mestalla in the north-west of the city in 2011. Valencia have a long-standing rivalry with Levante, also located in Valencia, and with another club in the Valencian Community region, Villarreal.
Valencia are the third most supported football club in Spain, only behind Real Madrid and FC Barcelona. It is also one of the biggest clubs in the world in terms of number of associates (registered paying supporters), with more than 50,000 season ticket holders and another 20,000+ season ticket holders on the waiting list, which will come into effect once the new 75,000-seater stadium is built.
In 1919, the centre of the Turia River capital, in the Torino Bar, the idea of creating a football club was put into action. The first president of Valencia Football Club, Octavio Augusto Milego, was elected at random: a coin tossed into the air helped decide between himself or Gonzalo Medina Pernás, who himself finally got the department of the constituent and festivities commission.
Nevertheless, the decision of these Valencian pioneers did not have any repercussion either in society or in the media, since the newspapers of the time hardly dealt with sports and, moreover, the socio-political situation of Spain was uncertain. Before the founding of Valencia Football Club, there was already football in the city although there was no dominant club. It seems that football arrived in Valencia thanks to those people in the citrus fruits export business who had visited Great Britain, the cradle of football. That was the case of Francisco Sinisterra or Ramón Leonarte. In the same way, it was pretty common to see British sailors at Valencian ports playing with a ball. Already in 1908, there were several teams in Valencia like Levante, Gimnástico, Hispania or Hispano.
Once the club was set up, the first match played by Valencia was away from home. It took place in Castellón on 21 May 1919. Valencia’s rival was the Valencian Gimnástico, who won 1-0. The first Valencian line-up in history was: Marco, Peris, Julio Gascó, Marzal, Llobet, Ferré, Fernández, Umbert, Martínez Ibarra, Aliaga and Gómez Juaneda.
Valencia's first stadium was Algirós, opened on 7 December 1919. Algirós was the setting for all the club’s matches until 1923, when they started playing in the Estadio Mestalla. Valencia's first game at Mestalla was a 0-0 draw against Castellón Castalia. Both teams played again the following day and Valencia won 1-0.
Little by little, crowds at Algirós began to grow. Back then, entry tickets were 25 cents and the takings at the gate started to be enough to cover expenses.
During the 1920s the revenge spirit and sports tension were increasing every time the different teams in the Regional Championship had to meet. In 1923 Valencia became regional champions and could participate in the Copa del Rey for the first time in their history. The progress in the results of the team proved that they were able to become leaders of the football within the Valencian capital. Three or four years after its foundation, Valencia was already the most fearsome enemy for the rest of teams and their fanbase was growing.
The importance of the Valencia team was reinforced due to the fact that they had very good players like Montes or Cubells, who wanted something more than regional football. The fans split up between the staunch supporters for one and those for the other player, like if it all was about two bullfighters: on one hand, there were the cubellistas, and on the other, the montistas. Such rivalry was good for the team, since both players had a common objective: defending the colours of Valencia Club de Fútbol.
Arturo Montesinos, Montes, due to his physical characteristics (he was 1.90 m tall), was a more aggressive player than Cubells. Eduardo Cubells, much more technical than the aforementioned player, was the first international player provided by Valencia and the second one in the Valencian Community, after Agustín Sancho, a player from Cabanes who played in F.C. Barcelona.
Returning to the first participation of Valencia in the Copa del Rey, the whole Turia river capital was full of excitement. The opponents were Sporting Gijón. The first match was played in Algirós, which had a record capacity. The result was 1-0 for Valencia, goal scored by Montes. A month later, the return match was a big defeat (6-1) for Valencia in Gijón, although since the competition was accounted by points a third match had to be played, which took place in Oviedo, in which Sporting won again 2-0.
Despite the defeat, Valencia took advantage of the fact that they played an important team at a domestic level, since the number of supporters of the “Che” team increased. This progressive increase of the interest in Valencia made the Valencian managers start to look for land that was up for sale in order to build a new stadium for the team. They found one located by the Mestalla irrigation channel.
Creation of Mestalla and La Liga promotion
Ramón Leonarte was the President of Valencia who signed the deed for purchasing the land where Mestalla stands in January 1923. It cost 316,439 pesetas, a considerable amount for the time, which was raised thanks to several loans. The seating capacity of the pitch was to be 17,000 spectators and the project was given to two men bound to the Valencian entity: the architect was Francisco Almenar, future president, and the builder Ramón Ferré, also a member of the club.
The opening of the new stadium took place on 20 May 1923 and the guest team was Levante U.D. The final result was 1-0 for Valencia and the first player who had the honour to score in Mestalla was Montes. A Scottish team, Dundee United, visited Mestalla a week later. They played two days in a row and won on both occasions 0-3 and 0-1, respectively.
Up until 1923 the figure of the coach did not practically exist. It was just before the start of the 1923-24 season when the club hired a Czech manager, Antonin Fivebr, who was the responsible for giving an international prestige to the Mestalla club. The coach did a good job as he made a point of promoting young players, right in a moment when professionalism was little by little dominating the sport.
At that time, the creation of a domestic league that would include the best teams in the country was being promoted in Spain. Valencia’s objective was to participate in such a competition. However, given that they were a young entity and did not have a large curriculum, it was necessary to wait for three years before they could form part of the First Division. At the end of the twenties Luis Colina arrived at the Valencia club and he acted as technical secretary from 1928 to 1956. His work was essential to establish the successes of the club. Besides creating school, Colina was known for having a good eye for signing up new players.
The League was split into First and Second Division. The six champions of the Spanish Cup guaranteed their participation in the First Division: Athletic Bilbao, Real Madrid, Barcelona, Real Sociedad, Real Unión de Irún and Arenas Getxo. The three runner-ups of such championship, Atlético Madrid, Español and Europa joined them as well. There were nine teams and they needed one more in order to create a League that would have ten teams. This one would be the winner of a tournament played by Valencia, Betis, Sevilla and Racing Santander. The Cantabrian team won the right to participate in the First Division, whilst Valencia had to play in the silver category.
The first league championship in which Valencia participated, was in the 28th-29th season, ten teams who finally classified in the following order: Sevilla, Iberia Zaragoza, Deportivo Alavés, Sporting Gijón, Valencia, Real Betis, Real Oviedo, Deportivo La Coruña, Celta Vigo and Racing Madrid.
The historic debut of Valencia in the league was on 17 February 1929 in Mestalla, playing Oviedo, with a Valencian victory by 4-2. Pedret, Torregaray, Moliné, Salvador, Molina, Amorós, Pérez, Imossi, Navarro, Silvino and Sánchez played that day. Imossi and Navarro scored one goal each, whilst Silvino scored two goals.
In their third season in the Second Division, Valencia got the promotion they had longed for to the First Division. It was the 1930-31 season and the team led by Fivebr showed great superiority. The football players who formed part of the team that got promoted were Cano, Villarroya, Conde I, Melenchón, Torregaray, Pasarín, Torres, Amorós, Arilla, Conde II, Imossi, Molina, Salvador, Costa, Navarro, Octavio, Perona, Picolín, Ricart, Rino, Sánchez, Torredeflot and Vilanova. This promotion closed the first great stage in the life of the club, and opened another one full of glory and victories. After five seasons of getting used to the new league and the big break caused by the Civil War, the best decade in the history of the “Che” team was to arrive.
The 1940s: Emergence as a Giant in Spanish football
After the Civil War, Valencia had to adjust to the new reality. Many of the football players who belonged to the team in 1936 left the “Che” team three years later. The military also intervened in football as in many other aspects of daily life. In the case of Valencia, in June 1939 Major Alfredo Giménez Buesa was appointed president and Luis Casanova vice-president. One of the objectives of the new regime was the elimination of the professionalism, which was considered a republican reminiscence. Another mainstay of Valencianism, which suffered the consequences of the civil war, was Mestalla, smashed by the continuous air raids. The stadium was redesigned and enlarged thus gaining a capacity of 22.000 spectators.
Due to the transfer of Major Giménez, the presidency of the club was passed on to Luis Casanova. Under him the club lived its best years. Within ten seasons, Valencia won three Leagues and two Cups, the latter called Generalísimo Cup back then. This success was possible for several reasons: the fact that the main players of the team before the war continued in the team; the wonderful 'electric forwards' formed by Epi, Amadeo, Mundo, Asensi and Gorostiza; the personality of the president Luis Casanova; the performance of the people on the bench like Cubells, Moncho Encinas, Pasarín and Jacinto Quincoces; the recovery of the Mestalla stadium and the creation of the reserve team: the Club Deportivo Mestalla.
But there is no doubt that Valencia had a great team, possibly one of the best ever, with Ignacio Eizaguirre as goalkeeper, two defenders that perfectly understood each other (Álvaro and Juan Ramón) and the electric forwards, formed by two Valencian and three Basque players. This team would conquer the first great national title for the club: the 1941 Cup, versus Español. It was the first victory after two decades of existence, and the celebration in the Turia river capital was tremendous.
One Cup, a third position in the League, several international players in the team and a great future for the club allowed Valencia to be positioned among the ‘big teams’ of Spanish football.
The culmination was when the Mestalla club won the League championship for the first time in its history in the season 41-42. The ironic thing is that back then the Cup was much more important than the League. But it would be unfair to forget that as far as regularity is concerned, Valencia’s season was wonderful. They had a fantastic goal record (85 in 26 matches), Mestalla became a real fortress (only Atlético Madrid won there) and Valencia became a tough team. Moreover, Valencia’s centre forward Edmundo Suárez, Mundo, was the top goalscorer with 27 goals.
After a break of one season, in the 43-44 season, Valencia won the League again. This time, Valencia was on top of the table from the beginning of the championship. This season Barça was the only team to win in Valencia (3-4) in the second match of the League. Mundo was again the high goal scoring pichichi, with 27 goals. The superiority of Valencia even played down the excitement of the League, although Valencia’s supporters were delighted, watching their team getting their third title within four seasons. But in the forties there were also troubles for the Valencian interests. In fact, the Mestalla club is the only one within Spanish football that has lost three finals in a row. Valencia was the Cup runner-up in 1944, 1945 and 1946, and again in 1970, 1971 and 1972. The odd thing is that the three finals lost in the forties had the same setting: the Olympic Stadium in Montjuïc. The stadium of Barcelona was considered jinxed by the Valencia supporters of the time. In the first final Valencia lost 2-0 versus Atlético Bilbao, 3-2 again versus the Bilbao club in 1945 and 3-1 versus Real Madrid in 1946.
In the 46-47 season Valencia won their third league title in a row. On this occasion, Valencia had to suffer till the end in order to get the victory. The start of the championship was poor and in the eighth round the “Che” club was only two points above the last team. The last round arrived and nothing was still decided, with the feeling that Atlético Bilbao was going to be the champions, although Atlético Madrid (Atlético Aviación's new name since January 1947) and Valencia also had a chance. In the last match, the team, trained by Pasarín, beat Gijón 6-0. The other rivals failed. Bilbao drew 3-3 in La Coruña and Atlético Madrid lost at home versus their eternal rival, Real Madrid, 2-3. Valencia were champions thanks to their goal advantage between them and the Basque team, who was beaten by Valencia both in San Mamés and in Mestalla. Since there were neither electronic scoreboards nor radio broadcasting, the securing of the third title was communicated by telephone.
The end of the forties reflected the generation change experienced by the club, where players like Puchades and Vicente Seguí were starting to stand out.
Valencia had lost its three previous finals played in Barcelona. The Cup final of 1949, played in the Spanish capital by Atlético Bilbao and Valencia, was a very difficult match that ended with a goal by Epi, putting an end to a decade of players who had been very profitable for Valencia Club de Fútbol.
The Puchades period
Although it was not possible to repeat the victories obtained during the previous decade, in the fifties, especially during the first half of the decade, the football performed by the Mestalla club was again worth mentioning. The quality of the football players was good, but the influence of a series of circumstances decreased the efficiency of the team. Foreign players arrived to Spanish football within this decade, which made some clubs become stronger, such like Real Madrid of Di Stéfano and Barcelona of Kubala.
The best football player of Valencia in the fifties was, without any doubt, Antonio Puchades. The player from Sueca became very soon the banner of the team and up until his retirement, he was a key player in the club.
Works of redesign and enlargement of the stadium were undertaken in this decade: the creation of the Big Mestalla. The challenge for the club was creating the setting where there could be played the matches corresponding to the importance of the team, of the city and of the large number of Valencian supporters. The aim was achieved, but the enormous economic effort had negative consequences for the team, which sometimes could not be reinforced in the way it was necessary.
The redesign, which allowed Mestalla to have a capacity of 45.000 spectators, meant an investment close to one hundred million pesetas, a very high amount for the time. But the Valencia home stadium became one of the best in Spain, which made it to be seat of the domestic team during the World Championship in 1982 which took place in Spain, as well as in the Olympic Games of Barcelona ’92.
Another player worth mentioning during the fifties in Valencia is Jacinto Quincoces. A new Valencia became stronger with him, with the youngest players of the former decade like Monzó, Pasieguito, Puchades or Seguí, and the new players (Wilkes, Santacatalina, Buqué, Sendra, Mañó, Mangriñán, Quincoces II, Pla, Sócrates, Gago, Badenes, Quique, Fuertes or Taltavull, among others). The continuity of Quincoces as a coach lasted from 1948 to 1954.
The 50-51 season was the first in which 16 teams took part. Valencia’s play in the championship was very uneven. The big and best-classified teams failed in Mestalla, but they were beaten by Deportivo and Celta and could not do anything else but drawing with teams like Santander or Real Sociedad. Valencia ended up third in the classification and they were beaten by Real Madrid at the very beginning of the Generalísimo Cup. The president resigned, although Luis Casanova was convinced to continue in his position, which he did not leave until 1959.
Valencia reached two finals of the Cup, both playing Barcelona. The first one was in 1952. That year the league was not bad, since the team was classified in fifth position of the season that would end up being the worst one of Quincoces as Che coach. In the Cup, after beating Sevilla and Zaragoza, the team reached the semi-finals, where they played Real Madrid, also beaten by Valencia. The last obstacle in order to get the title was Fútbol Club Barcelona, who played Valencia in Chamartín on 25 May 1952. Badenes put Valencia ahead on two occasions and put the Valencian team on the right path in the final. But the real ‘slap’ was to arrive: just before the break, the blaugrana team managed to reduce the difference. In the second half there were nothing but misfortunes for the team led by Quincoces and the recovery of Barça was complete, achieving a final score of 4-2.
The 52-53 season was good for Valencia. They played very well and managed to be runner-up with a team renewed with players from Mestalla, like Sendra, Mañó, Mangriñán and Sócrates. Barcelona was the champion and Valencia lost all their hopes in the last month of the championship. Moreover, the same Barça also eliminated Valencia in the Cup.
The following league went by almost unnoticed, although it is true that Quincoces players ended up in the third position, behind Madrid and Barça. The best of that year was the attainment of the Generalísimo Cup. The rival was again Barcelona, but this time the Catalan team were beaten 3-0, thus taking the Mestalla club their deserved revenge since the final match of 1952. That 20 June 1954, Quincoces selected Quique, Monzó, Puchades, Badenes, Pasieguito, Seguí, Sócrates, Juan Carlos Quincoces (nephew of the coach), Mañó, Fuertes and Buqué as the first eleven players. The goals were scored by Fuertes, in two occasions, and Badenes. This one was a historic victory in Chamartín and the picture of the final was the goalkeeper Quique sitting on top of the longitudinal post, representing the superiority of Valencia.
With this Cup title, Valencia closed the chapter of victories under the presidency of Luis Casanova. After the Cup, there was a transition stage that displeased the supporters. Although until the end of this decade there were still good quality players, the Mestalla club was neither in position for winning the League nor reaching a Cup final in any occasion.
Besides Puchades, other big players belonged to the Valencia team during the second half of the decade. One of the best ones was Servaas Wilkes, a Dutchman coming from Italy who was a real dribbler with the ball at his feet and dazzled the supporters throughout his three seasons as a Valencia player.
For eleven seasons, the Navarra player Juan Carlos Quincoces wore the white shirt and proved to be an effective and very reliable defender, who played all the official matches from the 54-55 season until the 58-59 one (120 matches of the League in a row, plus the Cup matches).
In January 1956 Manolo Mestre made his debut with Valencia, a football player born in Oliva, who became the Valencia player who won most caps in League matches until Ricardo Arias surpassed him in the nineties.
The flood that affected Valencia in 1957 also hindered the club in the Avenida Suecia. Years of austerity and average results followed this disaster. The president who most years has been in the club, Luis Casanova, left indefinitely the presidency of the club after almost two decades. The president never denied that the passing of his close collaborator Luis Colina, was one of the facts that caused his decision. Vicente Iborra replaced him. With him, but especially with his substitute Julio de Miguel, Valencia would enter into the sixties, dominating the Fairs Cup
Valencia makes mark in European football
On 2 July 1961, while the city of Valencia was still in shock over the death of the Brazilian, Walter, in a traffic accident that occurred on the road to El Saler, Julio de Miguel Martínez de Bujanda became president of the club. Thus started another ten good years in the history of Valencia. At the same time, there was a new necessity in Spanish football: competing in the continental tournaments and demonstrating the power measuring up to other European teams.
One of the first successes of the new president was the fact that Valencia was accepted in Fairs Cup, competition that back then was exclusively entered by invitation, and not by way of a good position in the league. This competition is the predecessor of the current UEFA Cup and it´s considered like this by UEFA. Moreover, De Miguel managed to sign up a great player: the Brazilian Waldo Machado, who gave great evenings of football in Mestalla and who would become one of the top goalscorers in the “Che” history. His free kicks, his unbelievable shots and his happy football left a mark in Spain as well as in Europe. The ideal partner for Waldo was Vicente Guillot, whose path was parallel to the Brazilian’s, understanding each other perfectly.
Valencia’s European successes were accompanied, in general, by mediocre leagues. That happened during the 61-62 season, in which Valencia assured home victories, but away they could not gain any positive points. They ended up twelve points behind Real Madrid, in seventh position.
In the Fairs Cup, the first rival who Valencia had to beat was Nottingham Forest, one of the biggest clubs in English football at the time. The first match, at the City Ground , ended up with a spectacular 1-5 to Valencia. After qualifying by beating the English team, the next team was Lausana. Valencia was already in quarter finals and this time the rival was the powerful Milan, which was beaten in Mestalla 2-0 and a draw 3-3 in Milan.
Valencia beat MTK Budapest in the semi-finals, 3-0 in Valencia and 3-7 in Budapest, in one of Valencia’s highest goal scoring games in Europe.
An old sparring partner was awaiting Valencia in the final: Futbol Club Barcelona. The victory was historic. Due to the 6-2 result that Valencia managed against Barça in a European final. The thousands of Valencian supporters who filled Mestalla on 12 September 1962 went crazy. The final was sentenced and in the return match, in Nou Camp, the result was a one-one draw. Zamora, Piquer, Quincoces, Mestre, Sastre, Chicao, Héctor Núñez, Guillot, Waldo, Ribelles and Yosu participated in both matches of the final.
The champion of the Fairs Cup would repeat their title the following season. The first obstacles were three Scottish teams: Celtic, Dunfermline Athletic and Hibernian. In the semi-finals Valencia had to play AS Roma. 3-0 in Mestalla and a tight defeat by 1-0 in the Rome Olympic stadium gave Valencia the passport to a new final.
The rival in the final was Dynamo Zagreb. The first match was played in the then Yugoslavian town and Valencia started losing, but then they recovered thanks to Waldo and José Antonio Urtiaga. The return match took place on 26 June 1963 in Mestalla, where 50.000 spectators could witness the superiority of Valencia, who beat the Balkan team by 2-0, with goals scored by Mañó and Héctor Núñez.
In the following season Valencia once more got through to the Fairs Cup final, this time after beating the top Irish club Shamrock Rovers, Rapid Vienna, the Hungarian club Újpest and in the semifinals, the Germans' Cologne. After a great effort to beat the Germans, another Spanish team was waiting for them in the final: Real Zaragoza. Unlike the previous final this time the victory was for the team from Aragon, who won the Cup by 2-1. The two goals of Real Zaragoza were scored by Villa and Marcelino, whilst Urtiaga scored the only goal for Valencia.
The Che team received a strong setback in the final with Zaragoza. That defeat gave way to three years of uncertainty, until July 1967, when a new title was achieved, but this time the Copa del Rey.
Valencia kept on renewing itself. It was the turn for players like Juan Cruz Sol and Pepe Claramunt. The incorporation of these two men was key for the Mestalla club to achieve an important place within Spanish football again.
With them, and with football players like Waldo or the Asturian goalkeeper Abelardo, Valencia reached the Cup final in 1967. The road was long and difficult, although the first qualifying rounds, with Cadiz and Betis as rivals, were easily won. In the quarterfinals Valencia had to get rid of Real Madrid and in the semi-finals another historic club in the Valencian Community, Elche, had to be taken care of. Valencia was again in a Cup final and had to face an old rival: Athletic Bilbao.
Roberto Gil held up the fourth Cup in the history of Valencia, beating the Basque team by 2-1 in Madrid, goals scored by the Paraguayan Anastasio Jara and Paquito. This new Generalísimo Cup meant a new present for the thousands of Valencian supporters.
In the following season Valencia made its debut in the Cup Winners Cup. A competition where Valencia managed to win two qualifying rounds beating Crusaders form Northern Ireland and Steaua Bucarest, before being eliminated by Bayern Munich, which had already legendary players like Sepp Maier and Franz Beckenbauer.
After that Cup in 1967, Valencia had three modest years, until the beginning of the seventies, when titles would return to Valencia.
The Alfredo di Stefano period
Alfredo Di Stéfano landed in Valencia in April 1970, in a bad time for the Mestalla club, replacing the pair formed by Enrique Buqué and Salvador Artigas. In that season, Valencia lost a Cup final in Barcelona again, this time playing Real Madrid (3-1). Montjuïc was again a jinxed stadium for Valencia’s interests, who had everything in their favour in that final: Madrid was in one of the worst league positions in their history and in the first half Grosso and Amancio were injured, but nevertheless, Madrid finally got the victory.
Di Stéfano's first season leading the team is one of the most intense and exciting ones in the history of the Valencia and it meant the last league championship up until the noughties. Di Stéfano created a new team, sound and strong in defence with players like Sol, Aníbal, Jesús Martínez and Antón, helping a reliable goalkeeper in Abelardo. Smart and precise football in the centre of midfield, where the reference player was Pepe Claramunt; and agile and fast forwards, perfect for the counterattack with Forment, Valdez, Sergio and Pellicer as key players.
The 70-71 season was the last one in which 16 teams would participate, and after the first matches Valencia was already in a dangerous position where they could even be descended from the Primera Division. Little by little the results started improving and Valencia consolidated to mid-table. The big match of that championship was the one played at the Nou Camp, Valencia beat Barcelona 2-0, with goals from Claramunt and Valdez, and a penalty stopped by Abelardo. It was the push Valencia needed to try and fight for the title.
What is most remembered about that season is the last match of the season, played in Sarriá. Valencia was the leader, with 43 points, whereas Barcelona and Atlético Madrid, who were rivals, had 42 and 41 respectively. Di Stéfano's team needed only a point which they did not get, since they were beaten by Españyol 1-0, but since colchoneros and culés drew, the title was heading back to Valencia. Many analysts agree that Valencia won their fourth league thanks to the solidity in defence and thanks to Abelardo the goalkeeper.
Once the league season ended, Valencia faced the Cup final convinced they could get both titles as in 1944. The “Che” team arrived to the final, eliminating Mallorca, Betis, Málaga and once in semi-finals, Sevilla. They arrived to the final without losing any match, having scored eighteen goals in eight matches, as league champions and in very high spirits. The setting was Santiago Bernabéu and the rival, a sore Barcelona. The victory was for the Catalan team, which beat Valencia 4-3 in a great match. Valencia could not culminate one of the best seasons in their history.
The winning of the League title gave them the opportunity to make their debut in the European Cup, the top competition within continental football. Valencia’s path in this competition was brief, since they beat Luxemburgo and Hajduk Split but lost in the third round with Újpesti Dózsa.
Although Valencia’s team was possibly better than the one who won the League championship, in the 71-72 season they could only manage to be runner-up. Valencia was the current champions and all the teams had it in for them. The signing up of Quino, Adorno and Lico improved the potential of the team, although it was not enough to repeat the success of last season and the champion was Real Madrid.
Once more, Valencia lost a Cup final, this time against Atlético Madrid 2-1. Salcedo scored first, Valdez drew level and José Eulogio Gárate scored the goal that gave the victory to Madrid. This defeat meant a new setback for more than 20.000 Valencian supporters who were present at the match.
In 1973 the president Julio de Miguel resigned, one year after the decease in Mestalla of the manager Vicente Peris, his right hand man. After the president left, Valencia continued the League without distinction. In the first staging of the UEFA Cup competition that replaced the Fairs Cup (its predecessor), Valencia made their debut playing Manchester City, but they were beaten in the next round by Red Star Belgrade.
Francisco Ros Casares replaced Julio de Miguel, with a conflicting board of directors whose biggest success was the purchase of the land in Paterna, where the future “Ciudad Deportiva” Valencia’s training facility was to be located.
Spanish football opened its borders, which allowed each team to sign two foreign players up, ending up with the problem of those non-Spanish footballers whose mother or father were Spanish. One of the first players to arrive in Mestalla was Salif Keita, a forward from Mali who came from his success in French football. The other player that signed up was the Austrian Kurt Jara. The season was bad and Valencia did not even participate in any European competition, which had not happened since their debut in 1961.
Although this season was very difficult, there were great players in the Valencia team, like Johnny Rep, a wonderful Dutch outside right winger, who came from one of the best European teams at the time: Ajax Amsterdam.
After the Ros Casares period it was the turn for José Ramos Costa, elected president in January 1976. Under his presidency, the Mestalla club lived a sporting career marked by the Cup title in 1979 and the Cup Winners Cup title in 1980, although from the economic point of view Valencia started to get into debt mainly due to the redesigning works in Mestalla so that it could be ready for the World Cup in 1982.
Don't say "Kempes", say "Goal!"
With the start of the 76-77 season, Valencia began a completely different era. The Paraguayan Heriberto Herrera arrived in Valencia as a coach and the new players Castellanos, Diarte, Carrete, Botubot, Arias and Mario Kempes, the Argentina Superstar, joined Valencia, among others.
Mario Kempes is the most successful footballer to have played for Valencia, due to his international successes (he was part of Argentina’s team that won the World Cup in 1978) as well as to his performance with Valencia Club de Fútbol. Kempes was the top goalscorer of the Spanish League in two occasions, in the 76-77 (24 goals) and 77-78 (28 goals) seasons, top goalscorer in the World Cup that took place in his country in 1978 and key player in winning the 1979 Copa del Rey and the 1980 European Cup Winners Cup. His charisma, his free kicks and his scoring ability made an Argentine journalist baptise him with the nickname of ‘Matador’ and the whole of Mestalla would shout ‘Don’t say Kempes, say goal’ every Sunday.
A dismissed coach (Heriberto Herrera), a crack like Kempes in the team, players from Valencia who were getting better like Enrique Saura or Ricardo Arias, a good performance of the new signed up players Castellanos, Carrete and Botubot, all those were the keys of the first season of Ramos Costa as president.
Another important name in Valencia in that time was Ricardo Arias, the player who had the most caps throughout the history of Valencia. For sixteen seasons, the footballer from Catarroja was the main character of the most brilliant and saddest moments in the lifetime of Valencia.
The Spanish-French Marcel Domingo replaced Heriberto Herrera at the head of the season and he was in charge of returning Valencia to Europe, after a five-year period of absence. Domingo, who came from training Burgos, brought three players with him, the goalkeeper Manzanedo standing out among them.
Throughout the seasons, Valencia never lacked good quality players. Other footballers who arrived within these years were Daniel Solsona and Rainer Bonhof, international German player who had been world champion in 1974. Daniel Solsona, on his side, has been one of the most technical footballers to have played in Valencia.
The 78-79 season stood out for the performance in the cup competitions. The competition was not easy. The team managed by Pasieguito, who had replaced Domingo, had to test out against Barça. The outward match had an illuminating result: Barcelona 4 - Valencia 1. The qualifying round seemed sentenced and few people believed in the Valencian recovery. But in the match played in Mestalla, Valencia turned the qualifying round completely and beat the blaugrana team 4-0, result that allowed Valencia to continue in the Cup... and go all the way to the final.
After Barça, the rivals came from the Second Division, and Valencia comfortably beat Alavés as well as Valladolid. They arrived in to the final to face Real Madrid. The setting was the Vicente Calderón. In the terraces, 25.000 Valencian supporters waved the Valencian flag the senyeras in the Spanish capital, celebrating one of the best victories in the history of the club. Valencia, who played with the senyera kit, was formed by Manzanedo, Carrete, Arias, Botubot, Cerveró, Bonhof, Castellanos, Solsona, Saura, Kempes and Darío Felman and Tendillo took part as well. Valencia won 2-0, both goals by the Argentine star of the “Che” team. Together with Kempes, the most outstanding man in that final was Arias.
The celebration in the town of Turia was complete. But it would still be bigger the following season, again in a European competition. After the King’s Cup title, Valencia played the European Cup Winners Cup. Pasieguito was again the technical secretary and Alfredo di Stéfano was again in charge of the winning in Europe. Thanks to the European title, the League and the Cup that stood in the background, the 79-80 season was one of the most successful seasons for Valencia. The Mestalla team had to beat quality rivals such Copenhagen, Glasgow Rangers, Barcelona, the French team Nantes and in the final the Londoners Arsenal.
Around 7,000 Valencian people went to Brussels to attend the European final opposite the gunners from Arsenal, who were lower than the English supporters present at the Heysel stadium. The team was composed by Pereira, Carrete, Arias, Tendillo, Botubot, Solsona, Bonhof, Subirats, Saura, Kempes and Pablo. Already in the extra time, Castellanos replaced Subirats. The team was modest and with a lot of tension. After 120 minutes of play and with 0-0 the score, the final had to be solved by penalties. It was the turn for Valencia and for Kempes, who missed the first penalty. The things did not start right. But Ian Brady, also missed his. The following eight in a row were scored (Solsona, Pablo, Castellanos and Bonhof scored for Valencia) and gave way to a sudden death. Ricardo Arias beat Pat Jennings and Pereira became the hero of the final when he stopped Rix's penalty. Euphoria erupted and Saura was in charge of picking up the European Cup Winners' Cup.
Early to mid-1980s: Downfall and relegation to the Second Division
The 1980-81 season began with the European Super Cup. No Spanish team up until that year had won this competition, that brings the winner of the European Cup and the winner of the Cup Winners' Cup. Some of Valencia’s footballers of the time complained on several occasions because the title was not considered to have any special meaning in Spain until FC Barcelona got it in 1992, a decade after Valencia did.
Valencia’s rival was an old acquaintance, Nottingham Forest, current European and Super Cup champions and a team with great potential. The competition was played on two legs. The English won the first leg, in the mythical City Ground, 2-1, the Valencian goal being scored by the Argentine Felman. Everything was still to be decided at the ''Luis Casanova''. Valencia played with Sempere, Cerveró, Botubot, Arias, Tendillo, Castellanos, Saura, Solsona, Morena, Kempes and Felman. The Uruguayan Fernando Morena scored the only goal of the match and the double value of the away goal scored at the City Ground gave Valencia their first European Super Cup title.
As far as La Liga was concerned, in that season Valencia had a chance of winning the championship, although they did not manage to pull it off. They were fourth in the table, three points behind the leaders: Real Sociedad. One of the reasons for the average performance in the final stage of the league season played by Valencia was the departure of two of the stars of the team, Mario Alberto Kempes and Fernando Morena, who returned to their countries of origin in order to play in River Plate and in Peñarol respectively.
From that point, the social and sporting situation of Valencia Club Fútbol started to get worse. The celebration of the World Cup in Spain was a large financial burden for the club, since the upgrading work on the stadium were born by the club. In the 81-82 season, Valencia had a secondary role and ended up in fifth position in the league. After Kempes and Morena's departure, a great player entered the team, the Danish Frank Arnesen, who was only able to put in a good performance in the first year, since injuries kept him away from the field of play for a long time. A young footballer from Betxí, who would become a symbol of his time also made his debut that year - Roberto Fernández Bonillo.
In the 1982-83 season, the disaster that was on its way started to be visible. The economic situation was getting worse. With Miljan Miljanić as coach, the only joys of the season were the victory in Mestalla against Diego Maradona’s Barça, Kempes's return to the team after his short stay in River Plate, and the elimination of Manchester United, Baník Ostrava and Spartak Moscow in the UEFA Cup. The rest were nothing but problems and anxiety. With only seven left to play before the end of the season and Valencia was in a desperate situation in the table, Koldo Aguirre replaced Miljanić, who had been dismissed after losing 5-2 in Sarria.
Valencia had to win the last match of the season and wait for the results of its rivals in order to avoid relegation to the Second Division and continue in the first division. In Mestalla, Valencia had to play Real Madrid, who was risking their League title. Valencia won 1-0, with a goal scored by Tendillo. The other results of that round of matches were also favourable for them: Atlético Madrid beat Racing Santander in Madrid and Celta Vigo lost to Real Valladolid, both by scores of 3-1, whilst UD Las Palmas was beaten 1-5 at the ''San Mames'' by Athletic Bilbao, who became champions of La Liga. Valencia had amazingly survived relegation.
The two following seasons (1983–84 and 1984–85) were a transition to even worse times. Ramos Costa had left the presidency, which was now taken by the cardiologist Vicente Tormo. The club’s debt amounted to more than 2,000 million pesetas and the number of members had decreased a lot. In the face of the bad situation of the club, many footballers from the youth team started to play, among them it is worth mentioning a man who gave everything for Valencia CF: Fernando Gómez Colomer.
The situation became complicated to unexpected limits. Many footballers did not get paid and the club was up to its neck in debt. The responsibility for training the team fell on Óscar Rubén Valdez. The new signings did not turn out well, since Muñoz Pérez as well as Sánchez Torres went through Valencia without distinction. The relegation to the Second Division culminated in this fateful season: 85-86. The team did not have a bad start but the situation became more and more complicated. In the 22nd round of matches, Valencia lost 6-0 in Atocha, which caused the dismissal of Valdez and the return of Alfredo di Stéfano to the Valencian bench. With only four games left, Valencia were already relegated to the Second Division, although a victory in the ''Estadio Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán'' against Sevilla FC (0-2) and home against Hércules (3-1) gave some hope of returning to La Liga next season. The team confirmed the relegation by losing 3-0 at the ''Camp Nou'' and two draws with Cádiz CF and Real Betis. That draw put an end to 55 consecutive seasons in the elite of the Spanish football, with four League titles, five Copa del Reys, two European Fairs Cups, one Cup Winners' Cup, one Super Cup and a history full of great footballers of international standard. The relegation was the saddest day in the history of Valencia CF.
Mid to late-80s: Resurgence and back in the big League
In hindsight, Valencia's relegation was a blessing in disguise. Footballers, managers, and many supporters agree that the relegation to the Second Division helped Valencia to recover from their problems and to get back on course. 15 years later, the relegation is forgotten about and Valencia rubs shoulders with the best Spanish and European teams once again.
The president of Valencia after the relegation was Arturo Tuzón. The supporters, very much upset about playing in the Second Division, did not abandon Valencia and showed their love for the ''Mestalla'' club. In fact, the number of members increased. Valencia were champions of the Second Division and returned to the First Division only one year after the relegation.
The core of good Valencia players for the following years was created in the Second Division, with Fernando, Quique, Giner, Voro, Revert, Arroyo, Fenoll, Bossio and the players left from the relegated Valencia: Sempere, Subirats and Arias.
After the promotion, Valencia focused on consolidating their position in La Liga. In the 1987-88 season, Algerian Rabah Madjer played for six months, signed from F.C. Porto, it was a transition period and the team ended up in 14th position. That was the last season for Alfredo di Stéfano on the Valencia bench, at his third spell as the ''Che'' coach.
In order to face the following season, the board of directors, led by Tuzón, thought of Víctor Espárrago, who was currently managing Cádiz. The Uruguayan was a responsible man who transmitted his personality to the team, with him Valencia got back to contending for the La Liga crown, finishing third in 1989 and then second in 1990.
The 1989-90 season was brilliant for Valencia. The team played a wonderful league campaign and put in an acceptable Copa del Rey performance, plus they played two rounds of the UEFA Cup, against Victoria Bucureşti and Porto led by Rabah Madjer, which saw Valencia unfairly eliminated. The start of the league season was disappointing, although the team started improving as the season went on. When the league had already started, the Bulgarian forward Luboslav Penev arrived at Valencia from CSKA Sofia, known for his goal scoring. Moreover, this season saw the farewell of Javier Subirats after 12 years at Valencia.
The next season, the board of directors, led by Arturo Tuzón, bet on the same team that had got them second place the previous season, with the reinforcement of Roberto, who returned after playing for FC Barcelona. Nevertheless, in this season Valencia only got seventh position. In the UEFA Cup, A.S. Roma eliminated the ''Che'' team in the quarter-finals with a controversial refereeing decision that had an influence on the final result of the match. Valencia also lost in the Copa del Rey quarterfinals to RCD Mallorca.
In the 1991-92 season, Valencia invested heavily on reinforcing the team. After Víctor Espárrago's departure, Dutch coach Guus Hiddink arrived at Valencia, previously being European champion whilst managing PSV in the late 80's. In regards to the signings, the most remarkable ones were the Panamanian forward Rommel Fernández and the highly talented Brazilian Leonardo. In the league, Hiddink's team ended up fourth. Whilst in the Copa del Rey, Real Madrid eliminated Valencia in the quarterfinals.
There was a great hope for the possibilities of the new Valencia, which in that season lived important events, such as the opening of the ''Ciudad Deportiva'' training facilities in Paterna, the transformation of the club to a Sporting Limited Company and the presence of the Spanish Olympic football team that played their matches in Mestalla.
That season, Ricardo Arias, the footballer that had played most seasons and more official matches with Valencia in all its history, retired. The Valencian supporters lost one of the most reliable and classiest footballers of its history, but he was well replaced by another Valencian defender, Paco Camarasa.
The 1990s: Valencia stagnation
A new period for the Mestalla club started in 1992, when it became a Sporting Limited Company. There was a big social commotion during the following five years. After the indisputable success in the economic management led by Arturo Tuzón, the defeat by Karlsruher SC meant the beginning of the end of his period as president of Valencia.
The 1993-94 season started well for Valencia, who soon was first in the league and started the UEFA Cup eliminating the French team FC Nantes, who featured players such as Loko, Claude Makélélé, Karembeu and Pedros. That summer, Valencia bought Predrag Mijatović, who became one of the best players of Valencia in that decade, but left the club in a shocking way to rivals Real Madrid. As leader of the league on 2 November 1993, Valencia played in Germany in the return match of the UEFA Cup second round. In the first match, Hiddink's team won 3-1, so it seemed likely that they would qualify for the next round. But a large defeat by 7-0 meant for Valencia the worst European defeat in its history. Guus Hiddink was sacked after losing to Sporting de Gijón the following weekend.
Francisco Real, who up until that moment was member of the technical team of the club, replaced Hiddink. He could raise neither the morale nor the results of the team and after five games was replaced by Héctor Núñez, a Uruguayan forward who had played for Valencia in the '60s. Meanwhile, the board of directors, led by Arturo Tuzón, started to crack. The resignations and internal scandals caused Tuzón's resignation, who was temporally replaced by Melchor Hoyos. An election process was opened that would bring Francisco Roig to the presidency, after beating the other candidate, Ramón Romero, in the polls. Meanwhile, Luboslav Penev, the star of the team, was diagnosed with testicular cancer that kept him away from football for a year, but from which he fortunately recovered completely. A very young Gaizka Mendieta started to play his first matches as well; he had signed coming from CD Castellón and became the big star of Valencia. Another personal tragedy happened in Valencia in September 1993: the Panamanian forward Rommel Fernández, on loan to Albacete Balompié, was killed in a car accident.
On 9 March 1994, Francisco Roig was elected president and in his first decision as president, only hours after winning the election, was to dismiss Héctor Núñez as manager and appointed Jesús Martínez as technical secretary. While they were deciding who would be the substitute for Núñez, the second coach José Manuel Rielo became main coach. Roig's decision for coach was surprising: Guus Hiddink was again chosen, only five months after his dismissal. Valencia straightened out their path, played better football and got better results at the end of the season.
Roig took advantage of the 1994 FIFA World Cup, which took place in the United States, to hire the person who would become coach of the world champions, the Brazilian Carlos Alberto Parreira. Other outstanding people that signed up for Valencia were Andoni Zubizarreta, the number one goalkeeper of the Spanish national team, and the Russian forward Oleg Salenko, who would end up being the top goalscorer of the World Cup. Unfortunately, Salenko did not shine in Valencia as much as he did in the United States. In the 1994-95 season, Valencia reached the final of the Copa del Rey, having previously dismissed the coach. Parreira was dismissed in the Cup semi-finals, against Albacete Balompié, and Rielo was in charge of the team again. In the final, Valencia played Deportivo La Coruña on 24 June 1995, the game was postponed due to a heavy downpour with the score at 1-1. They had to play the remaining time three days later, a goal scored by Alfredo prevented Valencia from getting the victory.
The 1995-96 season started with a new coach, the veteran Luis Aragonés who took Valencia to second place in the league within four points of the title with a team in which Zubizarreta, Camarasa, Fernando and Mijatović stood out. Atlético Madrid, who had hired Luboslav Penev, were the champions that season along with the King's cup to achieve the league and cup double. Predrag Mijatović, the Valencia star at the time, signed for Real Madrid who paid the minimum release clause in his contract, which was met with resentment from the Valencia faithful.
In the summer of 1996, Francisco Roig carried out his will of signing the Brazilian superstar Romário. Nevertheless, the brilliant and rebellious Brazilian forward clashed with Aragonés and was sold to Flamengo. His signing coincided with the signing of the Argentine winger Claudio López, another future idol of the Valencia supporters. The bad results obtained in the league caused the dismissal of the coach from Madrid and he was replaced by Jorge Valdano. The Argentine coach made his debut in November 1996 and finished the new season without any titles, having been eliminated from the Cup by UD Las Palmas and beaten in the UEFA Cup by the German side Schalke 04, who would end up winning the competition. In December of the same year, Valencia signed another South American star, the Argentine Ariel Ortega.
Valdano started the 1997-98 season, but he was dismissed after three matches, after losing to RCD Mallorca, FC Barcelona and Racing de Santander. Jesús Martínez had also been dismissed as technical secretary, position that was now taken up by the Valencian Javier Subirats. Valdano's substitute was the Italian Claudio Ranieri, who quickly clashed with Romário - who was back from his loan to Flamengo - and Ortega, whose form was inconsistent. So much chaos caused the resignation of Francisco Roig as president, Pedro Cortés, vice-president up until that moment, accepted the club management on 2 December 1997. Valencia was in the relegation zone in the league and also had modest results in the Cup competitions. Valencia finished the league in ninth position, thus getting the right to participate in the Intertoto Cup, a new competition through which it was possible to enter the UEFA Cup competition. The only signing in the middle of the season was the Romanian forward Adrian Ilie, whose first months as a Valencia player were spectacular.
Claudio Ranieri started the 1998-99 season with the qualification of Valencia, through the Intertoto, for the UEFA Cup, where they were eliminated by Liverpool. In the league, Valencia finished fourth, qualifying for the UEFA Champions League. But the great success of this season happened in the Copa del Rey: Valencia won the competition in the Olympic stadium of Seville, by beating Atlético Madrid 3-0 on 26 June 1999, with a great goal by Mendieta and two by ‘Piojo’ López. The euphoria that the Valencia supporters experienced was indescribable, and the well-deserved festivities are still remembered. The heroes of the cup winning team were Cañizares, Angloma, Đukić, Roche, Carboni, Mendieta, Milla, Farinós, Vlaović, Ilie and Claudio López. Juanfran, Angulo and Björklund also played.
But Ranieri did not continue managing Valencia, the Roman coach had committed himself to Atlético Madrid in the spring of 1999, the same team he had beaten in the Copa del Rey. In order to replace him, the Argentine Héctor Cúper was chosen, who had arrived in RCD Mallorca two seasons before offering an incredible performance for the Balearic club: one Spanish Super Cup, one Copa del Rey final and one Cup winners' Cup final. The most notable signing that summer was of the Argentine left winger Kily González.
The 2000s: Valencia returns to the top of Spanish and European football
Valencia started the 1999–00 season by winning another title, the Spanish Super Cup, beating Barcelona. Valencia finished third in the league, behind the champions Deportivo La Coruña and level on points with second placed Barça. But the biggest success was in the UEFA Champions League; for the first time in its history, Valencia reached the European Cup final. However, in the final played in Paris on 24 May 2000, Real Madrid beat Valencia 3–0.
It was also Claudio López's farewell, as he had agreed to sign for the Italian side Lazio, also leaving was Farinós for Internazionale and Gerard for Barcelona. The notable signings of that summer were, the Norwegian John Carew, Rubén Baraja from Atlético Madrid, the Argentine Roberto Ayala and the Brazilian left back Fábio Aurélio. Baraja and Ayala would soon become a staple of Valencia's dominance of early 2000s in La Liga.
Valencia started the championship on the right foot and were top after 10 games, after the Christmas break Valencia started to pay for the top demand that such an absorbing competition like the Champions League requires. After passing the two mini-league phases, Cúper's team eliminated Arsenal in quarter finals and Leeds United in the semi-finals, and got ready to face Bayern Munich in the big final, Valencia had now reached two European Cup finals in a row. This time the final was to be played in Milan and at the San Siro, on 23 May. Gaizka Mendieta gave Valencia the lead by scoring from the penalty spot right at the start of the match, Cañizares then stopped a penalty from Mehmet Scholl, but Stefan Effenberg drew level after the break thanks to another penalty. After extra time, it was a penalty shoot-out to decide who would be European champions, Valencia, or Bayern Munich. Mauricio Pellegrino was the man who missed to give Bayern European glory and give Valencia heartbreak for the second season running in the biggest game in club football. For Valencia, it was difficult to recover from the blow in Milan, it culminated in Valencia finishing 5th in La Liga and out of the Champions League for the 2001–02 season, the final game of the season meant Valencia only needed a draw at the Nou Camp against Barcelona to seal Champions League qualification, unfortunately for Los Che they lost to Barcelona 3–2 at the Nou Camp, with a last minute goal from Rivaldo resulting in Barcelona qualifying for the Champions League and Valencia missing out, in a head-to-head tie.
The president, D. Pedro Cortés, resigned due to personal reasons and left the club in July, with the satisfaction of having won the King’s Cup, one Spanish Super Cup and having been runners up in two Champions League finals in a row. D. Jaime Ortí replaced him as president and expressed his intention on maintaining the good form that had made the club so admired on the European circuit. There were also some changes in the team and staff, Rafael Benítez, after helping Tenerife to promotion, replaced Héctor Cúper after the latter became the new coach at Internazionale. Among the footballers, Mendieta, Deschamps, Milla, Zahović and Gerard left, and Marchena, Mista, Curro Torres, Rufete, de los Santos, and Salva arrived.
From 1999 up until the end of the 2004 season, Valencia had one of the their most successful periods in the club's history. With a total of two La Liga titles, one UEFA Cup, one Copa del Rey and one UEFA Super Cup, in those six years, no less than five first class titles and two UEFA Champions League finals had been achieved.
The 2001–02 season brought Valencia a La Liga title, 31 years after the last title crown. There were new incorporations to the team, manager Rafael Benítez and the new players of Marchena, Mista, Curro Torres, Rufete, de los Santos and Salva.
That first game against fellow title rivals Real Madrid, produced a significant and important victory. This was followed by a record of eleven games won consecutively, breaking the existing one set in the 1970–71 season, the season they had last won the La Liga title under Alfredo di Stéfano.
After a defeat in La Coruña against Deportivo on 9 December 2001, the team had to win against Espanyol in the Estadi Olímpic Lluís Companys to prevent falling further behind the league leaders. Valencia were 2–0 down at half time, but a comeback in the second half saw Valencia win 3–2.
In the second part of the season, Benítez's team suffered a small setback after losing 1–0 in the Santiago Bernabéu to Real Madrid, but they recovered from this setback and achieved four victories and two draws in the following six games. The games against Las Palmas, Athletic de Bilbao, Deportivo Alavés, Real Zaragoza and Barça.
In one of those crucial games that they would come up against Espanyol, Valencia were trailing 1–0 half-time and a man down too with the dismissal of Carboni, but after two goals from Rubén Baraja, Valencia achieved a 2–1 victory. Furthermore, Real Madrid's defeat in Anoeta to Real Sociedad left Valencia with a three-point lead at the top of the table.
The final game of the season was at La Rosaleda to face Málaga, on 5 May 2002, a date that has gone down in Valencia’s history. The team shut itself away in Benalmádena, close to the scene of the game, in order to gain focus. An early goal from Ayala and another close to half-time from Fábio Aurélio, assured them their fifth La Liga title, 31 years after their last title win.
The 2002–03 season was a disappointing one for Valencia, as they failed in their attempt to retain the La Liga title and ended up outside of the Champions League spots in fifth, behind Celta de Vigo. They were also knocked out in the quarter-finals of the Champions League by Internazionale on away goals. The 2003–04 season saw Valencia trailing the long time leaders Real Madrid. In February, after 26 games played, Real Madrid were eight points clear. However, their form declined in the late season and they lost their last five games of the campaign, allowing Valencia to overtake them and win the title. The club added the UEFA Cup to this success. Valencia had now been La Liga champions twice in three seasons.
In the summer of 2004, coach Rafa Benítez decided to leave the club stating he had had problems with the club president, he would soon become manager of Liverpool. He was replaced by former Valencia coach Claudio Ranieri, who had recently been sacked by Chelsea. However, his second reign at the club was a disappointment as Valencia harboured realistic hopes of retaining their La Liga crown but, by February, found themselves in 7th place. Valencia had also been knocked out of the Champions League group phase, with Ranieri being sacked promptly in February. The 2004-2005 season ended with Valencia outside of the UEFA Cup spots.
In the summer of 2005, Getafe coach Quique Sánchez Flores was appointed as the new manager of Valencia and ended the season in third place, which in turn gained Valencia a place in the Champions League after a season away from the competition. The 2006–07 season was a season with many difficulties, a season which started with realistic hopes of challenging for La Liga was disrupted with a huge list of injuries to key players and internal arguments between Flores and new Sporting Director Amedeo Carboni. Valencia ended the season in fourth place and were knocked out of the Champions League at the quarter-finals stage by Chelsea 3–2 on aggregate, after knocking out Italian champions Inter in the second round. In the summer of 2007, the internal fight between Flores and Carboni was settled with Carboni being replaced by Ángel Ruiz as the new Sporting Director of Valencia.
On 29 October 2007, the Valencia board of directors fired Flores after a string of disappointing performances and caretaker manager Óscar Rubén Fernández took over on a temporary basis until a full-time manager was found, rumoured to be either Marcello Lippi or José Mourinho. A day later, Dutch manager Ronald Koeman announced he would be leaving PSV to sign for Valencia. But there was still no improvement; in fact, Valencia even went on to drop to the 15th position in the league, just two points above the relegation zone. Although on 16 April 2008, Valencia lifted the Copa del Rey with a 3–1 victory over Getafe at the Vicente Calderón. This was the club's 7th Copa title. Five days later, one day after a devastating 5–1 league defeat in Bilbao, Valencia fired Ronald Koeman and replaced him with Voro, who would guide Valencia as Caretaker Manager for the rest of the season. He went on to win the first game since the sacking of Koeman, beating Osasuna 3–0 in his first game in charge. Voro would eventually drag Valencia from the relegation battle to a safe mid-table finish of 10th place, finally ending a disastrous league campaign for ''Los Che''.
Highly-rated Unai Emery was announced as the new manager of Valencia on 22 May 2008. The start of the young manager's career looked to be promising, with the club winning four out of its first five games, a surge that saw the team rise to the top position of the La Liga table. Despite looking impressive in Europe, ''Los Che'' then hit a poor run of form in the league that saw them dip as low as seventh in the standings. Amid the slump emerged reports of a massive internal debt at the club exceeding 400 million Euros, as well as that the players had been unpaid in weeks. The team's problems were compounded when they were knocked out of the UEFA Cup by Dynamo Kyiv on away goals. After a run where Valencia took only five points from a possible ten games in La Liga, an announcement was made that the club had secured a loan that would cover the players' expenses until the end of the year. This announcement coincided with an upturn in form, and the club won six of its next eight games to surge back into the critical fourth place Champions' League spot. However, ''Los Che'' were then defeated by 4th place rivals Atlético Madrid and Villarreal in two of the last three games of the campaign, and finished sixth in the table, which meant they failed to qualify for a second successive year for the Champions League. No solution had yet been found to address the massive the debt Valencia were faced with, and rumours persisted that top talents such as David Villa, Juan Mata, and David Silva could leave the club to help balance the books.
Valencia played its first years at the Algirós stadium but moved to the Mestalla in 1923. In the 1950s, Mestalla was restructured, which resulted in a capacity increase to 45,000 spectators. Today it holds 55,000 seats. However, Valencia is scheduled to move to a new stadium in the north-west of the city Valencia in 2010. The Nou Mestalla, as it will be called, will hold around 75,000 spectators and will be given a 5 star status by FIFA. It ranks as the fifth largest stadium in Spain. It is also renowned for its steep terracing and for being one of the most intimidating atmospheres in all of Europe to play.
On 20 May 1923, the Mestalla pitch was inaugurated with a friendly match that brought Valencia CF and Levante UD face to face. It was the beginning of a new era that meant farewell to the old place, Algirós, which will always remain in the memories of the Valencians as first home of the club. A long history has taken place on the Mestalla field since its very beginning, when the Valencia team was not yet in the Primera División. Back then, this stadium could hold 17,000 spectators, and in that time the club started to show its potential in regional championships, which led the managers of that time to carry out the first alterations of Mestalla in 1927. The stadium's total capacity increased to 25,000 before it became severely damaged during the Civil War.
Mestalla was used as concentration camp and junk warehouse. It would only keep its structure, since the rest was a lonely plot of land with no terraces and a stand broken during the war. Once the Valencian pitch was renovated, Mestalla saw how the team managed to bring home their first title, the 1941 Cup. An overwhelming team was playing on the grass of the redesigned Valencian stadium in that decade, team that conquered three League titles and two Cups with the legendary ‘electric forwards’ of Epi, Amadeo, Mundo, Asensi and Guillermo Gorostiza. Those years of sporting success also served as support to recover little by little the Mestalla ground.
During the decade of the fifties, the Valencia ground experienced the deepest change in its whole history. That project resulted in a stadium with a capacity of 45,500 spectators. It was a dream that was destroyed by the flood that flooded Valencia in October 1957 after the overflowing of the Turia River. Nevertheless, Mestalla not only returned to normality, but also some more improvements were added, like artificial light, which was inaugurated during the 1959 Fallas festivities. This was the beginning of a new change for the Mestalla.
During the sixties, the stadium kept the same appearance, whilst the urban view around it was quickly being transformed. Moreover, the Valencian domain became from that moment on, the setting of big European feats. Nottingham Forest was the first foreign team that played an official match in Mestalla with the "Che" club. They played on 15 September 1961 and it was the first clash of a golden age full of continental successes, reinforced with the Fairs Cup won in 1962 and 1963. Mestalla had just entered the European competitions as a stadium where the most important events were taking place.
From 1969, the expression "Anem a Mestalla" (Let’s go to Mestalla), so common among the supporters, started to fall into oblivion. The reason was the change of name that meant a big tribute that the club paid to his most symbolic president that lasted for a quarter of a century. Luis Casanova Giner admitted that he was completely overwhelmed by such honour, and the president himself requested in 1994 that his name was again replaced by the name of Mestalla, as it happened. At the beginning of the seventies, the local bench of the back-then-called Luis Casanova stadium was occupied by Alfredo Di Stéfano, whose results were the winning of one League competition, one second place in the League and two Cup finals lost by the minimum difference. Moreover, Valencia participated for the first time in the European Cup and made their debut in the UEFA Cup. It all was a series of events that made that every match in the stadium located in Suecia Avenue turned into a big party.
In 1972, the head office of the club, located in the back of the numbered terraces, was inaugurated. It consisted of an office of avant-garde style with a worth mentioning trophy hall, which held the foundation flag of the club. In the summer of 1973 there was another new thing, the goal seats, which meant the elimination of fourteen rows of standing terraces providing more comfort and an adjustment to the new times. Valencia's management started to consider the possibility of moving Mestalla from its present location to some land in the outskirts of the town, but finally the project was turned down and some years later.
At that time, Mario Kempes, subsequently considered one of the greatest footballers in the world by Pele was playing for Valencia. With the Matador in its team, Valencia won the Copa del Rey, the Cup Winners Cup and European Super Cup in consecutive years. The "Che" team became continental superchampion in the last European final played in Mestalla. It was in 1980 against Nottingham Forest, which oddly enough was the first foreign team that had played an official match in the Valencian stadium.
Mestalla, which in 1925 had held the first match of the Spain national football team in Valencia, was chosen as the setting for the debut of Spain in the 1982 World Cup, although the performance of the combined national team was not finally what was expected. Ten years later, the Olympic team would look for support in the Valencian stadium, this time with a very different result, since the selected young footballers finally got the gold medal in the 1992 Summer Olympics held in Barcelona.
Mestalla has been the setting for important international matches, has held several Cup finals, has been seat for Levante UD, home of the Spanish national team and exile for Castellón and Real Madrid in the European Cup.
2008-2009 was to have been the last season at the Mestalla, with the club moving to their new 75,000-seater stadium Nou Mestalla in time for the 2009-2010 season. However, the club is in financial crisis, and work on the new stadium has stopped.
Kit and colours
Originally the kit was composed of white shirts, black shorts and socks of the same color. Although through the years these two have gone from alternating between white and black. Currently Valencia's main shirt sponsor is Swedish betting company Unibet
* '' 'First kit''': White shirts with orange trim, black shorts, white socks with black trim.
* '' 'Second kit''': Black shirts with orange trim, orange shorts and black socks.
* '' 'Goalkeeper Kit''': Blue shirts with white trim, black shorts and black socks.
The club assigned D. Pablo Sanchez Torella who composed the music of Valencia's anthem, named the "Pasodoble". the hymn was written by Ramon Gimeno Gil, in Valencian language. The anthem was premiered and had its official presentation at the 75th anniversary of Valencia Club de Futbol on September 21, 1993.
Valencia CF anthem
És un equip de primera
nostre València Club de Futbol
que lluita per a defendre en totes bandes nostres colors
En el Camp de l´Algirós ja començàrem a demostrar
que era una bona manera per a València representar
Amunt València, Visca el València, és el millor
Amunt València, Visca el València del nostre cor
Units com sempre els valencianistes et seguirem
en cada estadi per a què triomfes t´animarem
En la capital del Túria és el València qui vist de blanc
i defén la camiseta ple de coratge per a guanyar
En Mestalla continuarem sempre esforçant-se per a triomfar
i les glòries arribaren i en competència continuaran
Amunt València, Visca el València, és el millor
Amunt València, Visca el València, del nostre cor
Units com sempre els valencianistes et seguirem,
en cada estadi perquè triomfes t´animarem
Amunt València, Visca el València és el millooooooooor
The story of the bat
Valencia and the Balearic Islands were conquered by King James I of Aragon during the first half of the 13th century. After the conquest the king gave them the status of independent kingdoms of whom he was also the king (but they were independent of Catalan or Aragonese laws and institutions). The arms of Valencia show those of James I, King of Aragon.
The unique crowned letters L besides the shield were granted by King James. The reason for the letters was that the city had been loyal twice to the King, hence twice a letter L and a crown for the king.
There are several possible explanations for the bat; one is that bats are simply quite common in the area. The second theory is that on October 9, 1238, when James I was about to enter the city, re-conquering it from the Moors, one bat landed on the top of his flag, and he interpreted it as a good sign. As he conquered the city, the bat was added to the arms.
:''The numbers are established according to the official website: [http://www.valenciacf.com www.valenciacf.com]
''The following players are registered with the B team but are able to take part in First team matches.''
Out on loan
Shirt sponsors and manufacturers
Last updated: 16 May 2010
Pos. = Position; Pl = Match played; W = Win; D = Draw; L = Lost; GS = Goal Scored; GA = Goal Against; Pts = Points
* Coach: Unai Emery
* Assistant coach: Juan Carlos Carcedo
* Goalkeeping coach: José Manuel Ochotorena
* Physical coach: Pako Ayestarán
* Delegator: Jesús Paniagua
* Head of Medical: Antonio Giner Marco
* Club Doctor: Miguel Frasquet
* Assistants: Bernardo España, Vicente Ventura Deval, Jorge Vicente Ramón Donat, Vicente Navarro Navarro, José Manuel López.
* Physiotherapists: José de los Santos, Andreu Gramaje, Ximo Galindo, Álvaro Ortiz, Luis Baraja, David Ponce, Jordi Sorli.
Statistics and records
* Average Attendance: 46,894
* Socios: 45,116
* Seasons in First Division: 75
* Seasons in Second Division: 4
* Historical classification in La Liga: 3rd place.
* Highest position in League: 1st place
* Lowest position in League: 16th place
* Games played: 2,284
* Games won: 1,017
* Games drawn: 529
* Games lost: 738
* Goals for: 3,810
* Goals against: 2,973
* Goal difference: 837
* Overall points: 2,789
* Biggest home win: Valencia 8–0 Sporting de Gijón (29/11/1953)
* Biggest away win: Lleida 1–6 Valencia (04/02/1951) and Málaga 1–6 Valencia (31/01/2004)
* Biggest home defeat: Valencia 1–5 Athletic Bilbao (15/01/1933) and Valencia 1–5 Real Madrid (31/10/2007)
* Biggest defeat: Sevilla 10–3 Valencia (13/10/1940)
* '''''Pichichis won: Mundo (2): 1941–42, 27 goals; 1943–44, 27 goals; Ricardo Alos: 1957–58, 19 goals; Valdo: 1966–67, 24 goals; Mario Kempes (2): 1976–77, 24 goals; 1977–78, 28 goals.
* '''Zamora's won: Ignacio Eizaguirre (2): 1943–44, 32 goals conceded; 1944–45, 28 goals conceded; Goyo: 1957–58, 28 goals conceded; Angel Abelardo: 1970–71, 19 goals conceded; José Luis Manzanedo: 1978–79, 26 goals conceded; José Manuel Ochotorena: 1988–89, 25 goals conceded; Santiago Cañizares (3): 2000–01, 34 goals conceded; 2001–02, 23 goals conceded; 2003–04, 25 goals conceded.
* Most games played: Fernando (542), Árias (500), Santiago Cañizares (416), Miguel Ángel Angulo (411)
* Most goals scored: Mundo (260), Valdo (147), Mario Kempes (145), Fernando (140)
* La Liga
** ''Winners (6):''''' 1941-42, 1943-44, 1946-47, 1970-71, 2001-02, 2003-04.
** ''Runners-up (6):'' 1947-48, 1948-49, 1952-53, 1971-72, 1989-90, 1995-96.
* Copa del Rey
** ''Winners (7):''''' 1940-41, 1948–49, 1953–54, 1966–67, 1978–79, 1998-99, 2007-08.
** ''Runners-up (10):'' 1933-34, 1936–37, 1943–44, 1944–45, 1945–46, 1951–52, 1969–70, 1970–71, 1971–72, 1994-95.
* Supercopa de España
** ''Winners (1):'' 1999.
** ''Runners-up (3):'' 2002, 2004, 2008.
* Copa Eva Duarte (Predecessor to the Supercopa de España)
** ''Winners (1):'' 1949.
** ''Runners-up (1):'' 1947.
* Segunda División
** ''Winners (2):'' 1930-31, 1986-87.
Major European competitions
*UEFA Champions League
** ''Runners-up (2):'' 1999-00, 2000-01.
*'''UEFA Cup Winners' Cup
** ''Winners (1):''''' 1979-80.
* UEFA Cup
**''Winners (1):'' 2003-04.
*Fairs Cup (Predecessor to the UEFA Cup)
**''Winners (2):'' 1961-62, 1962-63.
**''Runners-up (1):'' 1963-64.
*UEFA Super Cup
** ''Winners (2):'' 1980, 2004.
*UEFA Intertoto Cup
** Winners (1): 1998.