A CLUB IS FOUNDED. First steps and Algirós´s pitch
Year 1919. In the center of Turia river capital, in the Torino Bar, the idea of creating a football team was put into action. The first president of Valencia Football Club, Octavio Augusto Milego Díaz, was elected by chance: a coin tossed into the air helped deciding between himself or Gonzalo Medina Pernás, who finally got the department of the constituent and festivities commission.
Milego and Medina worked side by side in a small establishment on Barcelona Street which, at first, also acted as a location for the new club. That first Valencian board of directors was also with them, the Pascual brothers and Julio Gascó, Andrés Bonilla, José Llorca, Fernando Marzal and Adolfo Moya.
Nevertheless, the decision of these Valencian pioneers did not have any repercussion neither in the society nor in the media, since the newspapers at that 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 the 21st of May of 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.
The first pitch of Valencia’s own was the non-existent Algirós, opened on the 7th of December of 1919. Algirós was the setting for all the club’s matches until 1923, when they started playing in the Mestalla pitch. On the opening day of the first Valencian domain the guest team was the Castellón Castalia and the result was a goalless draw. Both teams played again the following day and Valencia won 1-0.
Little by little, the crowd finally decided to go to Algirós in order to see the football show. Back then, entry tickets were 25 cents and the takings at the gate started to be enough to cover expenses.
During the twenties, 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 champion and could participate, for the first time in their history, in the Spain Cup. 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 their founding, Valencia was already the most fearsome enemy for the rest of teams and their fans were becoming more and more numerous.
The importance of the Valencian 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 aformentioned 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 Spanish Cup, the whole Turia river capital was full of excitement. The rival team was Sporting Gijón. The first match was played in the Algirós pitch, which had a historic record of attendants. The result was 1-0 for the local team, 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
MESTALLA: THE NEW SETTING FOR THE MATCHES
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 the 20th of May of 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 23-24 season when the club hired a Czech trainer, Anton Fivber, 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 Valencian club and he acted as technical secretary from 1928 to 1956. His work was essential to establish the successes of the team. 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 - in the 28-29 season- had, like the top category, 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 the 17th of February of 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 socerd 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 First Division. It was the 1930-31 season and the team led by Fivber 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 lifetime of the club, and opened another one full of glory and victories. After five seasons of getting used to the new category and the big break caused by the Civil War, the best decade in the history of the “ Che” team was to arrive.
the new setting for the matchesthe new setting for the matches
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 filial 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 got a real goal record (85 in 26 matches), Mestalla became a real fortress (only Atlético Aviación 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 Valencian 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 and the football pools were established. 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 champion, 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 was champion thanks to their oal 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 winning of the third League was communicated by telephone.
The end of the forties reflected the generation change experienced by the team, 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 town 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 person 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 ones 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 a 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 the 25th of May of 1952. Badenes put Valencia ahead in 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.
In the 51-52 season, Mestalla played in the Second Division. The coach, Carlos Iturraspe, asked Juan Ramón to participate with Valencian second team. With the old player of Erandio, Mestalla was classified second and played the promotion league, in which they beat Gijón, Santander, Alcoyano, Logroñés and Ferrol, although the club refused the promotion of the second team. This decision caused a string controversy in Valencia, since there were supporters who believed that the team should be promoted, although Valencia made it clear that the job of Mestalla, created in 1944, was to train and form players in order to play in the first team in the near future.
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 failed noisily by 3-0, thus taking the Mestalla club their deserved revenge since the final match of 1952. That 20th of June of 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 ad 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 sport 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.
Beside 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 juggler with the ball at his feet and who 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 since the 54-55 season until the 58-59 one (120 matches of the League in a row, plus the Cup matches).
In January of 1956 Manolo Mestre made his debut with Valencia, a football player born in Oliva, who became the Valencian player who most League matches had played in this club until Ricardo Arias surpassed him already in the nineties.
The flood that affected Valencia in 1957 also spattered the club in the Avenida Suecia. Years of austerity and average sport results followed this disaster. The president who most years has been in the club, Luis Casanova, left definitely the presidency of the club after almost two decades. The president never denied that the decease 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, characterised by the European successes.
VALENCIA ESTABLISHES ITSELF IN EUROPE
On 2nd 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 other 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. Moreover, De Miguel managed to sign up a great player: the Brazilian Waldo Machado, who gave graet 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 get any positive points. They ended up twelve points behind Real Madrid, in seventh position.
In the Fair Cup, the first rival who Valencia had to beat was Nottingham Forest, one of the biggest in English football. The first match, in the City Ground of the British town, ended up with a spectacular 1-5 favourable to the “Che” team. After qualifying by beating the English team, the next team that failed was Lausana. Valencia was already in quarterfinals and this time the rival was the powerful Inter Milan, which was beaten in Mestalla by 2-0 and a draw 3-3 in the Lombard town.
Valencia beat MTK Budapest in semi-finals, 3-0 in Valencia and 3-7 in Budapest, in one of Valencia’s high goal scoring events in Europe.
An old sparing partner was awaiting Valencia in the final: Fútbol Club Barcelona. The victory was historic. Due to the 6-2 result that Valencia managed against Barça in a European final. Thw thousands of Valencian supporters who filled Mestalla on that 12th 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 Glasgow, Dunfermline and Hibernians Edinburgh. In semi-finals Valencia had to play Rome. 3-0 in Mestalla and a tight defeat by 1-0 in the Roman 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 26th 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 Irish Shamrock Rovers, Rapid Viena, the Hungarian Ujpest Dosza and, in semifinals, the German Colonia. After a great effort to beat the Germans, another Spanish team was waiting for them in the final: the Zaragoza of the magnificent five. 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 Zaragoza were scored by Villa and Marcelino, whilst Urtiaga scored the only goal of Valencia.
The che team received a strong setback in the final with Zaragoza. That defeat gave way to three years of uncertainty, until July of 1967, when a new title was achieved, but this time the Generalísimo Cup.
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 the 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 quarterfinals Valencia had to get rid of Real Madrid and in 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 STÉFANO PERIOD
Alfredo di Stéfano landed in Valencia in April of 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 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, reminded and exciting ones in the history of the Valencia and it meant the last league championship up until now. Di Stéfano created a new team, sound and strong in defence with players like Sol, Aníbal, Jesús Martínez and Antón, helping a reliable player in the goalmouth: Abelardo. Smart and precise football in the centerfield, 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 category. Little by little the results started improving and Valencia consolidated in the medium zone of the table. The big match of that championship was the one played in Nou Camp. In that stadium Valencia beat Barcelona 0-2, with goals by Claramunt and Valdez, and a penalty stopped by Abelardo. It was the push Valencia needed to even try to fight for the title.
What is most remembered about that season is the last match of the league, 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 one point they did not get, since they were beaten by Español 1-0, but since colchoneros and culés drew, the title was for Valencia. Many analysts agree in affirming that Valencia won their fourth league thanks to the solidity in defence and the only 19 goals that Abelardo took.
Once the league had ended, Valencia faced the Cup convinced they could get both titles as in 1944. The “Che” team arrived to the final match, 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, like 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 Europe Cup, the top competition within continental football. Valencia’s path in this competition was brief, since they beat Luxemburgo and Hajduk Split and lost in the third round with Ujpest Dosza.
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 the runner-up. Valencia was the present champion, 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 the former season and the champion was Real Madrid.
Once more, Valencia lost a Cup final, this time against Atlético Madrid by 2-1. Salcedo scored first, Valdez drew 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. After the president left, Valencia continued the League without distinction. In the first staging of the UEFA Cup, competition that replaced the Ferias Cup, Valencia made their debut playing Manchester City, but they were beaten in the next round by Estrella Roja Belgrado.
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 traning 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 Malí who came from 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, 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 of 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 the seat for the World Championship of 1982.
DON’T SAY KEMPES, SAY GOAL
With the start of the 76-77 season, Valencia began a completely different stage. The Paraguayan Heriberto Herrera arrived in Valencia as a coach and the new players Castellanos, Diarte, Carrete, Botubot, Arias and especially Mario Alberto Kempes joined Valencia, among others.
Kempes was the most important footballer who has played in Valencia, due to his international successes (he was part of Argentina’s team that won the World Championship in 1978) as well as to his performance in 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 Championship that took place in his country in 1978 and key player for winning the 1979 Cup and the 1980 Cup Winners Cup. His charisma, his free kicks and his scoring skills made an Argentinean journalist baptise him with the nickname of ‘Matador’ and that everyone could hear ‘Don’t say Kempes, say goal’ every Sunday in Mestalla.
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 most times has worn the white shirt throughout all 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 team 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. The Catalan player, 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 a 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 by 4-0, result that allowed Valencia to continue in the Cup... and arrive to the final.
After Barça, the rivals came from the Second Division, and Valencia comfortably beat Alavés as well as Valladolid. They arrived to the final opposite Real Madrid. The setting was 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 Argentinean 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 stood in the background. The 79-80 season was the most successful one (excluding the position of runner-up that Valencia got in the Champions League of the 1999-2000 season) internationally speaking for Valencia. The Mestalla team had to beat quality rivals such BK Copenhague, Glasgow Rangers, Barcelona, the French Nantes and, already in the final, the Londoner 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 in the scoreboard, the final had to be solved by penalties shoot out. It was the turn for Valencia to shoot and for Kempes, who missed the shot. The things did not start right. But Ian Brady, Arsenal’s brains, also missed his. The following eight in a row were scored (Solsona, Pablo, Castellanos and Bonhof scored for Valencia) and gave way to a second round. Ricardo Arias beat Pat Jennings and Pereira became the hero of the final when he stopped Rix´s shot. Euphoria erupted and Saura was in charge of picking up the most important Cup that the Valencia footballers have ever got.
VALENCIA IS RELEGATED TO THE SECOND DIVISION
The Valencia of the 80-81 season was the Valencia of the 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 face to face. 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 Fútbol Club Barcelona got it in 1992, a decade after the Mestalla team did.
Valencia’s rival was an old acquaintance, Nottingham Forest, current European and Super Cup champion and a team with great potential. The competition was played in two matches. The English won the first match, in the mythical City Ground, by 2-1, the Valwncian goal being scored by the Argentinean Felman. Everything was still to be decided in 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 goals scored in opposite pitch gave Valencia the last European title they got up until now.
As far as the League is 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 classification, three points behind the leader: Real Sociedad. One of the reasons for the average performance in the final stage of the league 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 Championship 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 classification. After Kempes and Morena´s departure, a great player entered the team, the Danish Frank Arnessen, 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.
In the following season (82-83), the disaster that was on its way started to be barely visible. The economic situation was discouraging. With Miljan Miljanic 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 and the elimination of Manchester United, Banik Ostrava and Spartak Moscú 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 classification table, Koldo Aguirre replaced Miljanic, who had been dismissed after losing 5-2 in Sarriá.
Valencia had to win the last match of the league 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 beat Racing Santander in Madrid and Celta Vigo lost in Valladolid, both by 3-1, whilst Las Palmas was beaten 1-5 in the Insular stadium by Athletic, who became champion in this way. Valencia had amazingly saved the category
The two following seasons (83-84 and 84-85) 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 young blood started to play, among them it is worth mentioning a man who gave everything for Valencia: 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 player signings did not turn out well, since Muñoz Pérez as well as Sánchez Torres went though 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 Di Stéfano to the Valencian bench. With only four rounds of matches left for the end, Valencia was already relegated to the Second Division, although a victory in Sánchez Pizjuán in Sevilla (0-2) and home against Hércules (3-1) gave some hope of continuation in the category. The team culminated the relegation by losing 3-0 in Nou Camp, and drawing Cádiz and Betis to their own interests. That tie put an end to 55 consecutive seasons in the elite of the Spanish football, with four League titles, five Cups, two Fair Cups, one Cup Winners Cup, one Super Cup and a history full of great footballers of international standard. The relegation was the hardest moment throughout the whole life of the Mestalla club.
THE RESURGENCE OF VALENCIA
Footballers, managers and many supporters agree in affirming that the relegation to the Second Division helped Valencia to recover from their problems and to get back on course. Fifteen years later, the relegation is down in history and Valencia rubs shoulders with the best Spanish and European teams. They have even bordered on glory, since they almost won the Champions League, the former Europe Cup, in a Spanish final won by Real Madrid in Paris in May of 2000.
The president of Valencia after the relegation was Arturo Tuzón. The supporters, very much upset about playing in the silver category, did not abandon Valencia and showed their love for the Mestalla club. In fact the number of members increased. Valencia was champion of the Second Division and returned to the First Division only one year after the relegation.
The core of the good Valencia of the following years was created in the Second Division, with Fernando, Quique, Giner, Voro, Revert, Arroyo, Fenoll, Bossio and the consolidated Sempere, Subirats and Arias, most of them from or for Valencia.
After promotion Valencia looked for consolidating its position over the following seasons. The 87-88 season, where the footballer from Algiers Rabah Madjer played for six months, handed over by Oporto, was a transition period and the team ended up in fourteenth position. That was the last season for Alfredo di Stéfano on the Valencia bench, and his third stage as the “Che” coach.
In order to face the following season, the board of directors led by Tuzón thought of Víctor Espárrago, who was training Cádiz. The Uruguayan was a responsible man who transmitted his personality to the team. With him Valencia ended up third in the 88-89 League and runner-up in 89-90.
The 89-90 season was brilliant for Valencia. The team played a wonderful League and put in an acceptable King’s Cup performance, plus they played two qualifying rounds of the UEFA Cup, against Victoria Bucarest and Oporto led by Rabah Madjer, which saw Valencia unfairly eliminated. The start of the League was disappointing, although the team Espárrago’s management started reacting and improving their game. When the League had already started the Bulgarian forward Luboslav Mladenov Penev arrived at Valencia from CSKA Sofia known for his goal scoring gift. Moreover, this season saw the farewell to Javier Subirats, after twelve years in Valencia.
. For the next season, the board of directors led by Arturo Tuzón bet on the same team that had got the second place, with the reinforcement of Roberto, who returned after playing in Barcelona. Nevertheless, in this season Valencia only got the seventh position. In the UEFA Cup, Roma eliminated the “Che” team in the quarterfinals with a controversial refereeing that had an influence on the final result of the qualifying round. Valencia also lost in the King’s Cup quarterfinals to Mallorca, which caused the disappointment of the supporters.
In the 91-92 season, the white team made an enormous economic effort to reinforce the team. After Víctor Espárrago´s departure, the Dutch coach Guus Hiddink arrived at Valencia. He had been the winner of the European Cup training PSV Eindhoven. As regards the signings, the most remarkable ones were the Panamanian forward Rommel Fernández and the Brazilian left back Leonardo. In the League, Hiddink´s team ended up fourth, whilst in the King’s Cup Real Madrid eliminated Valencia in quarterfinals. For another season the year was closed with surplus, which enhanced Tuzón´s management of the club.
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 in a Sporting Limited Company and the presence of the Spanish Olympic football team that played their matches for the Barcelona Games 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 other Valencian defender: Paco Camarasa.
FROM THE CONMOTION TO THE RECONQUEST OF TITLES
A new period for the Mestalla club started in 1992, which 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 in Karslruhe meant the beginning of the end of his period as president of Valencia.
The 93-94 season started well for Valencia, who soon was first in the League and started the UEFA competition eliminating the French Nantes, standing out young footballers like Loko, Makelele, Karembeu and Pedros. That summer, Valencia had hired the footballer from Montenegro Predrag Mijatovic, who became one of the best players of Valencia in that decade, but who left the club in a shocking way. As leader of the League, on the 2nd of November of 1993, Valencia played in Germany the return match of the UEFA’s second round. In the first match, Hiddink´s team had won 3-1, so it seemed likely the qualification for the next round. But a large defeat by 7-0 meant for Valencia the worst European humiliation in its history. Hiddink totters and was dismissed after losing in Gijón the following weekend.
Francisco Real, who up until that moment was member of the technical secretariat of the club, replaced Guus Hiddink. He could raise neither the morale nor the results of the team and who, after five rounds, was replaced by Héctor Núñez, an Uruguayan forward who had played in Valencia in the sixties. 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, Lubo Penev, the star of the team, was diagnosed with cancer of the testicles that kept him one year away from football, but from which he fortunately recovered completely. A very young Gaizka Mendieta started to play his first matches as well. He had signed up coming from Castellón and has become the big star of the present Valencia. Another personal tragedy happened in Valencia in September of 1993: the Panamanian forward Rommel Fernández, on loan to Albacete, was killed in a car accident.
On the 9th of March of 1994 Roig was elected president. His first decision, only hours after winning the election, was dismissing Héctor Núñez as coach and appointing 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 election for coach was surprising: Guus Hiddink was again chosen, only five months after his dismissal. Valencia straightened out their path, playing a better football and getting better results at the end of the League.
Francisco Roig took advantage of the World Championships in 1994, 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, official goalkeeper of the Spanish team, and the Russian forward Oleg Salenko, who would end up being the ‘pichichi’ of the World Championships but who did not shine in Valencia as much as he did in the United States. In the 94-95 season, Valencia arrived to the final of the Kings Cup, having previously dismissed the coach. Parreira was dismissed in the Cup semi-finals, against Albacete, and Rielo was in charge of the team again. In the Cup Final Valencia played Deportivo Coruña, on the 24th of June of 1995, and it was postponed due to a spectacular heavy downpour that fell on Santiago Bernabéu when they were 1-1. They had to play the remaining time three days later. After the double trip of the Valencian supporters to Madrid, they could not get more upset: a goal scored by Alfredo at the very beginning of the resumption of the match prevented Valencia from getting the victory. Despite the disappointment, the excitement and hunger for titles made the crowd to spontaneously fill Mestalla in order to welcome the crestfallen runner-up of the Cup.
The 1995-96 season started with a new coach. The veteran Luis Aragonés was the chosen to take Valencia to the second place in the League with a team in which Zubizarreta, Camarasa, Fernando and Mijatovic stood out. Atlético Madrid, who had hired Lubo Penev, was the champion of the League and of the King’s Cup that season. ‘Pedja’ Mijatovic, the greatest idol of the time, signed up for Real Madrid, paying the amount of the clause of cancellation of his contract, which meant an unforgivable affront to Valencianism.
In the summer of 96, Francisco Roig carried out his will of hiring Romario. Nevertheless, the brilliant and rebellious Brazilian forward clashed with Aragonés and was handed over to Flamengo. His signing coincided with the hiring of the Argentinean centre forward Claudio ‘Piojo’ López, another future idol of the Valencian supporters. The bad results obtained in the League caused the dismissal of the coach from Madrid and he was replaced by Jorge Valdano. The Argentinean coach made his debut in November of 1996 and finished a new season without titles, having been eliminated from the Cup by UD Las Palmas, which back then was a Second Division team, and ‘KO’ in the UEFA Cup by the German Schalke 04, who would end up winning such competition. In December of the same year, Valencia hired another South American star, the Argentinean Ariel ‘Burrito’ Ortega.
Valdano started the 97-98 season, but he was dismissed in the third round of matches after losing against Mallorca, Barcelona and Racing Santander. Jesús Martínez had also been dismissed as technical secretary, position that was now taken up by the Valencian Javier Subirats. Jorge Valdano´s substitute was the Italian Claudio Ranieri, who quickly clashed with Romario -hired again after the transfer - and Ortega and whose start was not especially brilliant. So much sport chaos caused the resignation of Francisco Roig as president. Pedro Cortés, vice-president up until that moment, accepted the club management on the 2nd of December of 1997. Valencia was the last but one in the League and had to face the modest Figueres in the Cup competition, beating them with some difficulties. Ranieri tottered but could keep his position. Valencia finished the League in the 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 up of Valencia in the middle of the season was the Rumanian forward Adrian Ilie, whose first months as Valencia player were spectacular.
Claudio Ranieri started the 98-99 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, obtaining the right to participate in the Champions League, competition that had replaced the European Cup. But the great success of this season happened in the King’s Cup: Valencia won the competition, in the Olympic stadium of Sevilla, by beating Atlético Madrid 3-0 on the 26th of June of 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. Twenty years later Valencia finally managed to get a new title. The heroes of the champion team were Cañizares, Angloma, Djukic, Roche, Carboni, Mendieta, Milla, Farinós, Vlaovic, Ilie and Claudio López. Juanfran, Angulo and Björklund also played.
But Ranieri did not continue training Valencia. The Roman coach had committed himself to Atlético Madrid in the spring of 1999, the same team he had deprived of winning the Copa del Rey. In order to replace him, the Argentinean Héctor Cúper was chosen, who had arrived in Mallorca two seasons before offering an incredible performance for the Balearic club: one Spanish Super Cup, one King’s Cup final and one Cup winners Cup final. The most remarkable new footballer that summer was the Argentinean left inner player ‘Kily’ González. The winning inertia of that Valencia allowed them to start the 1999-2000 season winning a new title, the Spain Super Cup, opposite FC Barcelona. Valencia finished third in the League, behind the champion, Deportivo Coruña, and FC Barcelona. But the biggest success was an European one: the first time Valencia participated in the new format ‘Champions League’, the team reached the big final, surprising everybody with their game and ambition. Unfortunately, in the final match played in Paris, on the 24th of May of 2000, Real Madrid won 3-0. They had bordered on the maximum glory, and Valencia had become the team in fashion in Europe.
Claudio López´s farewell, who signed up for the Italian Lazio, and Farinós´s leaving for Inter- and Gerard for Barcelona, characterised the start of the present season, 2000-2001. Cúper is still the coach and some of the most remarkable signing ups of that summer were the Uruguayan Diego Alonso, the Norwegian John Carew, the ex atlético Rubén Baraja, the Argentinean Ayala and the Brazilian back Fabio Aurelio.
The first half of the 2000-2001 season was characterised by the good path in the League. The team started the championship on the right footing and was leader for over ten rounds of matches. After the Christmas break, Valencia C.F. 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 quarterfinals and Leeds United in semi-finals, and got ready to face Bayern Munich in the big final. Our team was at the gates to heaven again. After Paris, this time the appointment with glory was in Milan. The culminating match of the UEFA Champions League was played on the 23rd of May in San Siro. Mendieta scored a penalty right at the start of the match, Cañizares stopped a penalty shot by Mehmet Scholl and Effenberg drew after the break thanks to another penalty blew by the referee Dick Jol. After extra time, the penalty lottery decided Valencia to be again the runner-up of Europe, a milestone tarnished by the desire of victory but which meant the European peak in the history of our club. For our team it was difficult to recover from the blow in Milan, since in the last matches in the League they fell down to the fifth position of the classification, being out of the 2001-2002 staging of the Champions League.
The president D. Pedro Cortés left the club in July, who resigned due to personal reasons and left with the satisfaction of having got one King’s Cup, one Super Cup and two second places in the Champions. D. Jaime Ortí replaced him as president, who expressed his intention of keeping the good path that had made the club was admired in the whole Europe. There were also some changes in the team and staff. Rafa Benítez, after causing the Tenerife’s promotion, replaced Héctor Cúper as coach. Among the footballers, Mendieta, Deschamps, Milla, Zahovic and Gerardo left, and Marchena, Mista, Curro Torres, Rufete, De los Santos and Salva arrived.
From 2001/02 League to the "Copa del Rey 07/08"
In the 2001/02 and 2003/04 seasons, Valencia FC has lived some of its most glorious moments in the history of the this institution, coinciding with the year 2004, which was the 85th Anniversary of the foundation of the club. With a total of 2 League Cups, 1 UEFA Cup and 1 European Supercup, in these magical six years, no less than five first class titles and two UEFA Champion League Finals have been attained.
Despite the emergence of big budgets and the multimillionaire player signings, Valencia FC has been by far, the best in Spain since the start of the 21st century and one of the best in the world. Superb sports planning, the continuance of a solid team and the team’s confidence and patience in precise moments has made the club, chaired by Jaime Ortí, one of the most highly regarded in this sport today.
It all started in the 2001/02 season, which brought with it a League victory, thirty-one years after the last. There were new incorporations to the team, the manager Rafa Benítez from Tenerife Football Club and the new players; Marchena, Mista, Curro Torres, Rufete, De los Santos and Salva. The pre-season was full of enthusiasm and the start of the League presented Valencia FC as one of the candidates for the title. Furthermore, in the first game the true form of the team could be seen.
That first game played with force and clarity against 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 1970/01 season, just when they had won their last League Cup.
However, the road to victory was no bed of roses. After the defeat in La Coruña against Deportivo on the 9th December 2003, the team had to win against Espanyol in the Montjuic stadium so as not to fall behind in the League. After losing before half-time by 2-0, a spectacular start to the second half turned the final score around to 2-3, a result that would raise the team’s morale in the future.
. So, the second leg of the competition was definitely historic. Benítez´s team suffered a small crisis after losing 1-0 in the Santiago Bernabéu stadium, 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, Alavés Real Zaragoza and above all the superb victory over Barcelona FC, gave the team enough confidence to face with warranty the last ten League matches so vital in a competition like this.
And in one of these fundamental games they also would come up against Espanyol. With an unfavourable result of 0-1 and the sending-off of Carboni before half-time, the team rose to the occasion and two goals from Baraja made Valencia FC cross the fine line from hope to glory. Furthermore, Real Madrid´s defeat in Anoeta left Valencia with a three-point lead in the League.
The final game was at La Rosaleda. The 5th May 20002, a date that has gone down in Valencia’s history. The team shut itself away in Benalmádena, close to the scene of the game to get away from the incredible euphoria that surrounded the team. The trust and confidence of a team destined to go down in history was more than evident. They did not have to suffer for long. An early goal from Ayala and another close to half-time full of unnecessary suspense from Fabio Aurelio, assured them their fifth League. Thirty-one years later, Valencia was the League Champions again! The stadium in Málaga was a flood of emotions. The fans merged into an eternal embrace with their heroes, sounds of firecrackers boomed all over Andalucia, black and white flags and Valencian National flags caressed the Andalucian sky. An idyllic scene that was repeated and multiplied in the city on seeing hundreds of thousands of Valencian supporters, rejoicing as they had never done before. Whole generations of Valencia supporters enjoyed themselves well into the early hours and some even went straight to the airport in Manises to wait for the return-flight from Andalucia, that arrived at 1 o ´clock in the afternoon.
Everyone in the city rushed crazily out onto the streets to welcome the League Champions on that rainy day. Despite the unpleasant weather the Town Hall, Basilica and the local government offices were decorated in black and white. The climax came in the Mestalla stadium. With sublime behaviour from the fans, the team ended an unforgettable day that fortunately would come again soon.
The winning of the League soon gave way to a slightly sweet-and-sour tasting 2002/03 campaign. Valencia FC started off with the same winning staff and team, and with a return to the UEFA Champions League as a priority objective. The League started off well. In fact, in the eighth week, thanks to the goal from Fabio Aurelio the team got their fifth victory in eight unbeaten matches. They ended their year as the best first-division team in a glorious 2002 after winning the League. However, the campaign did not finish with the desired results although, it would be a great warning for the future.
In this way, 2003/04 season was presented as a challenge. Valencia Football Club had just been knocked out of the UEFA Champions League and to be content with the UEFA Cup, a small reward for the status of a team that had demonstrated itself as Champions. Its pride and keenness to win again drove to an historical start to the season. After a draw with Real Valladolid, the team would have the best league start in history, with six consecutive victories against rivals of the calibre of Real Madrid, Atlético de Madrid, Málaga, Osasuna, Barcelona FC and Espanyol.
In this way the 2003/04 league confirmed a string of achieved records. A total of 77 points, obtaining 23 wins, more victories than any other team, being the top scorer with 71 goals (one of the highest averages in the history of the club), once again with the least goals scored by their rivals with only 27 goals scored against them. Furthermore, only one year later he was considered the best club in the world in the month of April amongst other numerous honorary titles that surrounded the league victory.
Hundreds of thousands of people lined the streets to celebrate this historic triumph and the pictures at the airport in Manises welcoming the team and the subsequent trip around the city streets, dedicating their victory to the “ Virgin of Desamparados”. Coming out on the balcony of the local government office and the Town Hall, will stay in the collective memory of all Valencia supporters for life.
As without the league was being won little by little, the same was happening in the UEFA Cup. The team five against the Swedish team AIK Solna in October, in a qualifying round that cost more than was expected given the physical strength of the Swedes, who were in better physical shape at this stage at the beginning of the season. A double victory of 1-0 ensured their place in the next round where Benitez´s team would confront the Israelí Maccabi Itaifa team.
The match held at Mestalla finished with a worrying draw 0-0. the military conflicts that this country lives with made the securing of the qualifying round difficult to attain. Nevertheless, a fair decision by the UEFA body relocated the match to be played on neutral ground; specifically in Rotterdam. The conclusive result: four goals to nil and one more step on the way to winning the European title.
In the third round a defeat against Besiktas, the first of the Turkish rivals Valencia FC would have to face. Another close result in the first leg (3-2) brought uncertainty about the second in this Ottoman hell. However the champion’s spirit of Valencia FC once again obtained a conclusive win by 0-2.
In the quarter-finals another Turkish rival, on this occasion with an pronounceable name, had become the revelation of the championship. Genglerbirligi had eliminated up to that point Parma, Sporting de Lisboa and Blackburn Rovers with which the game in the stadium on the 19th May was fore seem as not being easy. However on the 11th March, the date when the game was played will not be precisely remembered for its sporting event but for the Madrid terrorist attack that claimed almost two hundred people’s lives. Given the magnitude of the disaster, the UEFA body was about to call off the match but finally it was decided to go ahead and ended with another undesired result 1-0.
Once again in the second leg the qualifying round would be decided. And once again the team would overcome an adverse result under additional and original circumstances like Vicente’s goal in the fifth minute of the first silver goal in the history of the UEFA. The final result 2-0 in favour, another qualifying round over and the quaterfinals deservedly won. Five games away from the final, Girondins of Burdeos was the next rival. Optimism prevailed in Valencia FC that by that time in April had become unstoppable with faith, they demonstrated this in Burdeos clearly beating the French by 1-2 leaving in exemption their ticket to the semi-finals. Another win in the Mestalla Stadium 2-1 and the semi-finals in a few days, no less than against Villarreal in the so-called “Euro Derby”.
Without doubt it was the most passionate qualifying round of all played. The first game was clearly defined by equality and emotion despite the unjust result of 0-0 in view of the good football displayed by both teams. Valencia FC was superior although they were happy with the draw. Besides, given the fraternal atmosphere that existed between the two teams, it seemed fair that ticket to the final would be decided in a big party in the Mestalla Stadium.
As was anticipated, it was another vibrant game, played with Equal possession and where responsibility carried weight as the game progressed. One gesture, on this occasion, a penalty on Mista and the forward’s conversion of it, decided the qualifying game. In spite of Villarreal’s relentless pursuit, once again Valencia FC´s defensive ability left the goals at 0 and the final result of 1-0 brought an apotheosis of happiness that overwhelmed the team for the rest of the month. Whatever would happen in Goteborg, the venue for the final, the team had completed its golden season. The UEFA Cup victory was seen therefore as the perfect end to an impeccable journey.
But the team went with the intention of winning and to finally make up for the defeats in Paris and Milan. Because of this the experience of that 20th May was an invitation to history with a superb performance from all the team, specially Mista and Vicente the scorers of the two goals, Valencia FC defeated with forcefulness Olympique of Marsella and ruled in Europe again after the mythical European Supercup of 1980. It had just resulted the club’s first historic double win.
To finish this double win the European Supercup won in Monaco on the 27th August 2004, transformed that year into the biggest ever, and was ratified on 11th January best when the team was named the best in the world.
The last title won by our Club was the King’s Cup of the 2007-2008 season.
Valencia CF defeated Real Unión de Irún, Real Betis, Club Atlético de Madrid and faced FC Barcelona
in the semi-finals. In the second leg clash played at Mestalla, our team achieved an epic victory
over FC Barcelona, 3-2.
The final was played at the Vicente Calderón stadium on April 16th 2008. Valencia CF won the King’s Cup thanks to a convincing 3-1. The beginning of the match was overwhelming and Alexis and Mata scored two goals in the first ten minutes of the final. Morientes scored the third when there were only seven minutes left. In that moment, the supporters of Valencia CF that were on the terraces of the Vicente Calderón stadium celebrated a deserved victory with great joy.
PHOTOS: MARCELO ULLUA