Valencia CF literally meaning Valencia Club De Futbol is a soccer club based in Valencia, Spain. This club has proved its worth as the third most popular club in the Spanish League across its history. This is mentioned in accordance to the All-time La Liga table, where Valencia is in the Third spot behind Real Madrid and Barcelona. Statistics suggest that it is also the third most supported club in Spanish La Liga. It also stands as one of the biggest clubs in the world in terms of number of registered paying supporters with more than 50000 season tickets sold and 20000 still in waiting. Also in terms of Continental titles, Valencia is only behind Real Madrid and Barcelona among all the Spanish clubs. Keeping their current status apart, they undoubtedly are one of the biggest clubs in Spanish and European soccer history.
Valencia plays its home games in the Mestalla which has a capacity of 55000. They were due to move into the 75000-seater Nou Mestalla in 2013 which is in the North West of the city but due to incomplete construction the move has been postponed.
Valencia has shared a fierce rivalry with Levante UD which is another club from the city of Valencia.
The club was established on 5th March 1919 and officially approved on 18th March 1919, with Octavio Augusto Milego Diaz as its first President and ironically this presidency was decided over a coin toss. The club initially played its home matches in the Algiros’ ground and moved to the Mestalla in 1923.
GIANT IN SPANISH FOOTBALL:
Until the year 1941, the progress of Valencia was halted due to the Spanish Civil war. In 1941, the club won the Copa Del Rey, beating Espanyol in the final. In 1941-1942 the club expanded its dominance by winning the La Liga for the first time. The club maintained its reputation as a Spanish giant by retaining the La Liga title again in the seasons 1943-1944 and 1946-1947 seasons. However in the 1950’s, even though it grew as a club, it failed to emulate the successes of the previous decade. Mestalla was restructured to accommodate 45000 fans, and the club also had a number of Spanish stars like Antonio Puchades and foreign stars like Dutch forward Faas Wilkes as well.
Glory came again in the 1952-1953 season, when Valencia finished runners-up behind Barcelona and in the following season they beat defending cup champions Barcelona 3-0 in front of 110000 people at Estadio Chamartin(then home ground of Real Madrid) to win its third Copa Del Rey which was then known as Copa Del Generalisimo. The 1950s also saw the retirement of club greats like Salvador Monzó, Vicente Asensi, Amadeo Ibáñez, Antonio Puchades and Pasieguito.
EUROPEAN SUCCESSES OF VALENCIA CLUB:
At the glorious European level, the club did not fail to shine. Despite of an indifferent league form in the 1960’s, Valencia had its first ever European success when it won the Fairs cup (forerunner to UEFA cup) beating Barcelona in the final of 1961-1962 edition. They retained the title again in 1962-1963 this time being pitted against Croatian giants Dinamo Zagreb. Again they were present in the final of Fairs cup in 193-1964 season but this time they failed to retain their title as they were beaten by their compatriots Real Zaragoza.
Spanish club legend Alfredo Di Stefano was hired as coach in 1970 and the club won its first La Liga title since 1947. Owing to this victory Valencia found its first qualification into the prestigious European Cup, contested by European domestic champions. It was a valuable experience though as they managed to reach the third round to be knocked out by Hungarian Champions Ujpesti Dozsa. In 1972, the club finished runners-up to both the cup and the league.
The 1970s era saw the club boasting the likes of Austrian midfielder Kurt Jara, forward Johnny Rep of the Netherlands, West German midfielder Rainer Bonhof and Argentinian forward Mario Kempes, who became the La Liga topscorer for two consecutive seasons in 1976–77 and 1977–78.
Valencia won the Copa Del Rey again in the 1978-1979 season and also triumphed at the European stage the next season by winning the Cup Winners Cup beating Arsenal in the final.
THE DARK YEARS OF VALENCIA:
Valencia was faced with some very tough times at the start of 1980s. They luckily managed to avoid relegation in 1982 under the management of Koldo Aguirre who replaced Miljan Miljanic who was sacked mid-season as Valencia were at the 17th place with seven games left to play. In 1983-1984 and 1984-1985 seasons the club was under heavy debt under the presidency of Vicente Tormo. Eventually the club hit rock bottom and got relegated at the end of 1985-1986 season. This was the first time this club was relegated after spending 55 years in the Spanish top flight and this tragedy was coupled by many internal tensions like unpaid player and staff wages.
But the club showed resilience in maintaining its well earned reputation and when the presidency of the club came under Arturo Tuzon, Alfredo Di Stefano returned to Spanish football as coach of Valencia in 1986 and won promotion for the club in 1986-1987 season. Di Stefano stayed on as coach till 1987-1988 season when Valencia finished 14th in the league. Later Guus Hiddink was appointed as head coach in 1991-1992 season and club finished fourth in La Liga and reached the quarter finals of Copa Del Rey. Gradually the pride of Valencia was retained as it remained competitive in the Spanish top flight and the Copa Del Rey as well.
Valencia had the most glorious years in its entire club history at the start of the new century. They started the 1999-2000 season by winning the Spanish Supercopa beating Barcelona. They also finished third in the league at the end of that season. Their biggest achievement was reaching the finals of the UEFA Champions League only to be beaten by Real Madrid 3-0 in Paris on 24th May, 2000.
With manager Claudio Lopez leaving for Lazio, Valencia signed many players like John Carew, Rubén Baraja, Roberto Ayala, Vicente Rodriguez, and the Brazilian left back Fabio Aurelio. Also bought that season was Pablo Aimar in January. Aimar, Baraja, Vicente, and Ayala would soon become a staple of Valencia’s dominance of the early 2000s in La Liga.
Despite of being at the top of the league table after 10 games, Valencia lost their grip due to their focus on the Champions League where they eliminated Arsenal in the Quarter-finals, Leeds united in the semi-finals and went on to face Bayern Munich in the big Final. Having reached two European finals in a row, Valencia were composed enough to take the game to the penalties where a Mauricio Pellegrino miss gave Bayern Champions League glory and dealt Valencia a second-straight exit in the finals. Valencia slipped to the fifth place in the table and the final game of the season meant Valencia to only snatch a draw against Barcelona in order to make it to the Champion’s league next season. But disappointingly they lost to Barca at the Camp Nou by a score of 3-2.
The President D. Pedro Cortes, resigned due to personal reasons and left the club in July and he was replaced by D. Jaime Orti. As Hector Cuper left Valencia for Internazionale, Rafael Benitez took up the post of Manager. From 1999 up until the end of the 2004 season, Valencia had one of their most successful periods in the club’s history. With a total of two La Liga trophies, one UEFA Cup trophy, one Copa del Rey, and one UEFA Super Cup in those six golden years, no less than five first class trophies and two Champions League finals had been achieved.
Valencia dramatically won the La Liga title in the 2001-2002 season by making late comebacks several times in their last few league games. They failed to retain their title in 2002-2003 and also ended up being outside Champions League qualification. The 2003-2004 season saw Valencia trail Real Madrid at new year but a late slip by the Capital club led Valencia into overtaking them and win the La Liga for the second time in three seasons.
Benitez left due to his unstable relations with the board and the former manager Claudio Ranieri rejoined Valencia. His second reign at the club was a disappointment as Valencia couldn’t even make it to the UEFA cup the following season. In 2005, Getafe coach Quique Flores was appointed as new manager at the Mestalla and he brought Valencia to the third spot and ensured a Champions League place the next season.
Valencia was then faced with a managerial merry-go-round as Flores was fired, whose place was subsequently taken up by Ronald Koeman who was sacked and replaced by Voro who acted as a caretaker manager who was good enough to avoid relegation for Valencia that season. The highly rated Unai Emery was announced manager in 2008 who gave a good start to the league but ended up with a seventh spot for Valencia by the end of the season.
The team’s real crisis came by the introduction of debts. The team was accused of having an internal debt of more than 400 million euros which led to players being deprived of their wages for weeks.
The big and alarming crisis for the club at the moment was their debt. Lack of glory was a secondary one. Talents like David Villa and David Silva were sold to Barcelona and Manchester City respectively in order to improve the financial condition of the club. Valencia managed to make it to the third spot in La Liga despite the losses of these key players. Soon the captain Juan Mata was sold to Chelsea. It was finally declared by President Manuel Llorente that the club’s financial status had been restored to a stable level and the construction of their new stadium would soon resume.
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 the Valencian variety of the Catalan. The anthem was premiered and had its official presentation at the 75th anniversary of the club on 21 September 1993.
La Liga (Primera División)
Winners (6 times): 1941–42, 1943–44, 1946–47, 1970–71, 2001–02, 2003–04
Runners-up (6 times): 1947–48, 1948–49, 1952–53, 1971–72, 1989–90, 1995–96
Copa Del Rey (Spanish Cup)
Winners (7 times): 1941, 1948-49, 1954, 1966-67, 1978-79, 1998-99, 2007-08
Runners-up (10 times): 1934, 1937, 1944, 1944-45, 1946, 1952, 1969-70, 1970-71, 1971-72, 1994-95
Supercopa de España (Spanish SuperCup)
Winners (1 time): 1999
Runners-up (3 times): 2002, 2004, 2008
Copa Eva Duarte (Predecessor to the Supercopa de España)
Winners (1 time): 1949
Runners-up (1 time): 1947
UEFA Champions League
Runners-up (2 times): 1999–00, 2000–01
UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup
Winners (1 time): 1979–80
Winners (1 time): 2003–04
Fairs Cup (Predecessor to the UEFA Cup)
Winners (2 times): 1961–62, 1962–63
Runners-up (1 time): 1963–64
UEFA Super Cup
Winners (2 times): 1980, 2004
UEFA Intertoto Cup
Winners (1 time): 1998
Runners-up (1 time): 2005
Across its 95 year history, Valencia has managed to deserve the title of ‘the third best team’ in the Spanish league. Though the current times of the club are marked by minor debts and a struggling form domestically, the past glories of the club in Spain and Europe make it difficult to ignore this club when considering Europe’s greatest clubs. Throughout all the ups and downs in their soccer history they have also managed to endure the financial debts this club has gone through.
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