A CLUB IS FOUNDED
First steps and Algirós´s pitch
Football arrived in the city of Valencia through those who, due to their links with citrus fruit exportation, had spent time in Britain. Likewise, it was also quite common to see British sailors playing with a ball in Valencian ports. Teams such as Levante, Gimnástico, Hispania and Hispano were around in 1908, but it was with the celebration of the regional exhibition in 1909 that the sport achieved great success in the city.
A decade later, on March 1st, 1919, as recorded in the constitution, a group of enthusiasts of the sport, formed by Augusto Milego, Gonzalo Medina, Andres Bonilla, Pascual Gascó , Fernando Marzal and Julio Gascó decided to create a team bearing the name of the city: the Valencia Football Club. This group of fans who founded the club were led initially by Medina, who as President Delegate was put in charge of beginning all of the procedures to start operating as a sports club. On March 18th, 1919, he presented the necessary documentation to the Register of Companies, with this date going down in history as the day of the official foundation of Valencia CF. The first for the entity was Bar Torino, located at Bajada de San Francisco –currently the Plaza del Ayuntamiento square.
The first Board of Directors was officially constituted on April 4th, and Octavio Augusto Milego Diaz was named the first President of Valencia Football Club. The position was decided by a coin toss between him and Gonzalo Medina, who eventually took the role of Head of the Constituent Commission and Festivities. Fernando Marzal was chosen for the position of Secretary and Andrés Bonilla for the position of Treasurer. That same month, it was decided to include José Llorca as a founding member (As a minor, he needed authorisation to join this group of football enthusiasts) -thus establishing the group of founders of our club.
The first game for Valencia took place in Castellón, on May 21st, 1919. The opposition were Gimnástico, who won 1-0. The first Valencia lineup included Marco, Peris, Julio Gascó, Marzal, Llobet, Ferré, Fernandez, Umbert, Martínez Ibarra, Aliaga and Gómez Juaneda. The first home ground for Valencia was the Camp d’Algirós, inaugurated on December 7th, 1919. It remained so until 1923, when the club started playing at Mestalla. On the day of the inauguration of the first Valencia pitch, the away side were Castalia and the result a goalless draw. The next day, both sides played each other again and Valencia won 1-0. Attendance at Algirós gradually grew, to the point that the ground became too small.
The importance of Valencia CF was helped by their fielding high quality players such as Montes or Cubells, who had outgrown regional football. The fanbase were split between devoted fans of different players: There were both ‘Cubellistas’ and ‘Montistas.’ This rivalry was good for the team, as both players had a common goal: To do their best for Valencia Club de Fútbol. Montes, due to his physical characteristics (he was 1.90m tall), was a more aggressive player than Cubells. Cubells was a much more technical player, and was the first Valencia CF player to earn an international cap. He was and the second from the Valencian region to do so, after Agustín Sancho -a player from Cabanes who played for FC Barcelona.
On February 25th, 1923, Valencia CF were proclaimed regional champions and were able to participate, for the first time in their history, in the Copa de España. Their opposition were Sporting Gijon. The first leg was played at Algirós, which recorded a historic full house. The result was 1-0 for the home side, with both goals scored by Montes.A month later, the return match saw a heavy defeat (6-1) in Gijon, although as the competition was decided by points a third game was played, held in Oviedo, and Sporting won 2-0. In spite of the loss, Valencia CF took advantage of the opportunity to play against a big side at national level, increasing the number of fans. This progressive increase in interest in Valencia CF led to the board looking for land on which to construct a new ground.
They found it at the location of Mestalla.
MESTALLA: A NEW HOME FOR VALENCIA CF
Ramon Leonarte was the president of Valencia CF who signed the deeds for the land for Mestalla in January of 1923. It cost 316,439 pesetas, a considerable amount for the time that was paid through credit. The capacity of the ground would be 17,000 spectators and the project was commissioned to two men linked to the club: The architect was Francisco Almenar, a future president, and the builder Ramon Ferré, who was also a member of the club.
The inauguration of the new stadium took place on May 20th, 1923 against Levante UD. The final result was a 1-0 win for Valencia CF, and the first player who had the honour of scoring at Mestalla was Montes. A week later, Scottish team Dundee United visited Mestalla for two games on consecutive games, winning 0-3 and 0-1, respectively. It can be said that until 1923 there was no coaching figure. It was before the start of the 1923-24 season that the club hired a Czechoslovakian coach, Anton Fivber, to give national prestige to the club. The coach’s work was good, and he was especially supportive of promoting academy players. In Spain at that time, the creation of a national league that incorporated the best clubs in the country was being promoted. Valencia CF wanted to participate in that competition, but being a young club without an extensive history of trophies it was necessary to wait three years to join the Primera División.
At the end of the 1920s, Luis Colina arrived at the club. He was Technical Secretary from 1928 until 1956 and his work was essential to cementing the team’s success. Colina was renowned for his good eye for signings.
The league was divided into a First and a Second Division. In the Primera División were the six Copa de España champions: Athletic de Bilbao, Real Madrid, Barcelona, Real Sociedad, Real Unión de Irún and Arenas de Getxo; as well as runners-up in that tournament Atletico Madrid, Español and Europa. A tournament was established to select a tenth team, between Valencia CF, Real Betis, Sevilla and Racing Santander. The Cantabrians earned the right to participate in Primera, while Valencia CF had to play in the second division.
The first league season in which Valencia CF participated -1928/29- featured ten teams: Sevilla, Iberia de Zaragoza, Deportivo Alavés, Sporting Gijon, Valencia, Real Betis, Real Oviedo, Deportivo La Coruña, Celta Vigo and Racing Madrid. Valencia CF’s historic debut in the league came on February 17th, 1929 at Mestalla, against Oviedo in a 4-2 victory. Playing that day were Pedret, Torregaray, Moliné, Salvador, Molina, Amorós, Pérez, Imossi, Navarro, Silvino and Sánchez. Imossi and Navarro scored one goal each, whilst Silvino scored two goals.
In their third season in the Segunda División, Valencia CF earned promotion to the top flight. The squad consisted of Cano, Villarroya, Conde I, Melenchón, Torregaray, Pasarín, Torres, Amorós, Arilla, Conde II, Imossi, Molina, Salvador, Costa, Navarro, Octavio, Perona, Picolin, Ricart, Rino , Sánchez, Torredeflot and Vilanova. That promotion closed the first great stage of the club’s life and began a period of splendor and titles.
After five campaigns in the top flight, and the pause during the Spanish Civil War, the best decade in the history of the team would arrive. During the three years of the Civil War, Valencia CF continued their social and sporting activity. Many of the local printing presses didn’t work, but with the passes that had already been printed the fans were able to attend. Thanks to this activity, the club became one of the key elements to continuing with daily life during hard years for Spain. This work was down to Josep Rodríguez Tortajada, lieutenant mayor of the city of Valencia, who served as President of the club during the Civil War after being elected by a management commission composed of partners, players and employees. Also on this commission was player Carlos Iturraspe, as speaker, and Eduardo Cubells, along with Andrés Balsa and Luis Colina.
But before the presidency of Tortajada, shortly before the outbreak of the Civil War, Rafael Bau was elected president in a 60-member assembly in June 1936. He left the post 47 days later, when the Club was seized by the attendants at Mestalla.
VALENCIA CF’S POST-WAR GROWTH
After the Civil War, Valencia CF had to adapt to a new reality. Many of the players who were at the club in 1936 were not there three years later. The military also entered into football. In the case of Valencia CF, in June 1939 commander Alfredo Giménez Buesa was appointed president, with Luis Casanova as vice-president. Among the objectives of the new regime was the elimination of professionalism. Another side of the Valencianismo that suffered the consequences of the Civil War was Mestalla, destroyed by continuous bombings. A remodeling and enlargement of the stadium was carried out, that would give it a 22,000 capacity.
When Commander Giménez moved on, the presidency of the club was transferred to Luis Casanova. With him, the club would enjoy their best times. In ten seasons, Valencia CF won three League titles and two Cups, then called the Copa del Generalissimo. This was possible thanks to the base of the pre-war squad, the extraordinary ‘delantera electrica’ strikeforce of Epi, Amadeo, Mundo, Asensi and Gorostiza, the personality of the president, men like Cubells, Moncho Encinas, Pasarín and Jacinto Quincoces in the dugout, the recovery of Mestalla and the foundation of the second team: Club Deportiva Mestalla. This squad would earn the first major national title for the club after two decades of existence: The 1941 Copa, in a final against RCD Espanyol. The celebration in the city was enormous.
A Cup, a third place in the league, several international players and a great vision of the future made it possible for Valencia CF to make a place for themselves in the elite of Spanish football. The crowning moment came in the 1941-42 season, in which the club won the LaLiga title for the first time in their history. The paradox is that, at that time, the cup was much more prestigious than the league. But it would be unfair to forget the magnificent season Valencia CF had. The achieved a record for goals (85 in 26 games) and made Mestalla a true fortress, where only Atletico Aviación would be able to beat them. In addition, center forward Edmundo Suárez ‘Mundo’ was the top scorer with 27 goals.
In the 1943-44 season, Valencia CF won the La Liga title again. They were at the top of the standings from the start of the campaign, before ending the campaign with 40 points and 73 goals. That year, only Barça won at Mestalla (3-4) and Mundo was the top goalscorer again with 29. The superiority of Valencia depleted the excitement of the league, but left the fans happy as their team took a third title in four seasons. However, in the 1940s there were also troubles for Valencia CF. They lost three consecutive finals in 1944, 1945 and 1946, becoming the only Spanish team to lose so many finals in a row -and unfortunately history was repeated in 1970, 1971 and 1972. The curious thing is that the three finals in the 1940s were all held at the Olympic Stadium at Montjuïc. The ground was considered cursed by the Valencianistas of the time. In the first final Valencia CF lost 2-0 against Atletico de Bilbao, 3-2 against them in 1945 and 3-1 against Real Madrid in 1946.
The third league title Valencia CF won was in the 1946-47 campaign, coinciding with the arrival of legendary player Antonio Puchades. On that occasion, the title fight went down to the last game of the season, with Atletico Bilbao the favourites and Atletico Madrid also having options besides Valencia CF. On the final matchday, VCF won 6-0 against Gijón. The rest of their rivals slipped up: Bilbao drew 3-3 in La Coruña and Atletico Madrid lost 2-3 in a derby against Real Madrid. Valencia CF were crowned champions on goal difference to the Basque team, having won both at San Mamés and Mestalla.
The end of the 1940s reflected the generational change that the team was suffering, although new players such as Puchades and Vicente Seguí began to emerge. The next opportunity that Valencia had, after their previous experiences in the Cup as runners-up, came in the 1949 final. This time they faced Atletico de Bilbao in Madrid, at the Chamartin stadium, winning through an Epi goal 19 minutes from time.
THE PUCHADES PERIOD
Although the successes achieved in the previous decade could not be repeated, in the 1950s -especially in the first half of the decade- the football played by the club shone once again. The quality of the players was great, but a number of factors influenced a decrease in performance.
Foreign players arrived in Spanish football, which increased the power of some clubs, such as Real Madrid with Di Stéfano and Barcelona with Kubala. But the most outstanding player for Valencia CF in the 1950s was homegrown: Antonio Puchades. Soon he became the flagship player of the team and, until his retirement, was a key part of both Valencia CF and the Spanish national team –for whom he was chosen in the All-star XI at the 1950 World Cup.
With the successes of the decade, remodeling and expansion of the stadium was undertaken. The challenge for the club was to create a stadium befitting the importance of the team, the city and the large number of Valencian fans. The objective was achieved, but the enormous economic effort had a negative impact on the squad, which on occasion could not be strengthened sufficiently.
The remodeling, which allowed Mestalla to hold 45,000 spectators, meant an investment close to 100m pesetas -a very high figure for those times. Mestalla became one of the best Spanish stadiums, and would later host the national team in the 1982 World Cup held in Spain, as well as the Barcelona ’92 Olympic Games.
Another standout in the 1950s was Jacinto Quincoces. Under his guidelines a new Valencia CF was established, with the younger players of the previous decade -Monzó, Pasieguito, Puchades and Seguí- mixed with signings like Wilkes, Santacatalina, Buque, Sendra, Mañó, Mangriñán, Quincoces II, Pla, Sócrates, Gago, Badenes, Quique, Fuertes and Taltavull. He was coach from 1948 to 1954. The 1950-51 season was the first in which 16 teams participated in La Liga, and was inconsistent for VCF. Bigger sides lost at Mestalla, but in turn Valencia CF were beaten by Deportivo and Celta and drew with Racing Santander and Real Sociedad. Valencia CF placed third and were eliminated from the Copa del Generalissimo by Real Madrid.
VALENCIA CF MAKE THEIR MARK IN EUROPE
On July 2nd, 1961, with the city of Valencia still shocked by the death of the Brazilian Walter in a traffic accident, Julio de Miguel Martinez de Bujanda agreed to take over the presidency of the club. Thus began another ten good years for Valencia CF. At the same time, in Spanish football a new need was imposed: To compete in European tournaments against sides from around the continent.
One of the first successes of the new president was to get Valencia CF into the Fairs Cup (1961-62), a competition which at that time was invitation-only. He would also sign a future great, Waldo Machado, who would become one of the top scorers in VCF history. Waldo formed a partnership with Vicente Guillot, who had terrific understanding with the Brazilian. The first leg, held at the City Ground, finished with a spectacular 1-5 result in VCF’s favour. After sweeping Forest aside, the next team to fall at their hands was Lausanne. In the quarter finals, Valencia CF bested Internazionale 2-0 at Mestalla and drew 3-3 in Italy.
In one of their greatest European victories of all time, against MTK Budapest, Valencia CF won 3-0 at home and 3-7 in Budapest, making their way to the final against FC Barcelona. An historic 6-2 win followed, delighting the fans who filled Mestalla on September 12th, 1962. In the second leg, at the Camp Nou, a 1-1 draw ensured that VCF lifted the cup. Playing in the two final matches were Zamora, Piquer, Quincoces, Mestre, Sastre, Chicao, Héctor Núñez, Guillot, Waldo, Ribelles and Yosu.
The Fairs Cup champions would retain their title the following season. The first stumbling blocks were three Scottish teams: Celtic, Dunfermline and Hibernian. In the semifinals they played Roma.
A 3-0 result at Mestalla and a tight 1-0 defeat at the Stadio Olimpico took Valencia CF into another final: The opponents would be Dynamo Zagreb. The first leg was played in Zagreb, and after the home side went ahead, Valencia CF came back through Waldo and Jose Antonio Urtiaga. The return leg was held on June 26th, 1963, at Mestalla, where 50,000 spectators saw them win 2-0 through goals from Mañó and Héctor Núñez.
The following season saw Valencia CF again reach the final of the Fairs Cup, this time after beating Shamrock Rovers, Rapid Vienna, Ujpest Dosza and, in the semi-finals, Cologne. After overcoming the German side in the semifinals, they had a date with Zaragoza in the final. This time it was not to be, as Zaragoza took a 2-1 win to end Valencia CF’s hopes of the cup. The two goals for the home side were scored by Villa and Marcelino, whilst Urtiaga got VCF’s only goal. That defeat gave way to three years of uncertainty, and until the 1967 Copa del Generalísimo they would not win another trophy.
Valencia CF continued to regenerate, with players like Juan Cruz Sol and Pepe Claramunt emerging. The incorporation of these two was key to the club returning to contention in Spanish football. With them, and with footballers like Waldo and goalkeeper Abelardo, Valencia CF reached the final of the 1967 Copa del Generalísimo. After going through Cadiz and Real Betis in the early rounds, they ousted Real Madrid in the quarterfinals and Elche in the semifinals. A 2-1 victory in the final against Athletic Club saw VCF lift their fourth cup, with goals from Anastasio Jara and Paquito.
The following season featured the debut of Valencia CF in the Cup Winners’ Cup, a competition in which they were able to overcome Crusaders and Steaua Bucharest before losing to Bayern Munich -who already had the legendary Sepp Maier and Franz Beckenbauer in their ranks. After the 1967 cup win, Valencia CF had three discrete years, until the beginning of the 1970s.
THE ALFREDO DI STÉFANO ERA
Alfredo di Stéfano arrived in Valencia in April 1970, at a bad time for the club, to replace the tandem formed by Enrique Buqué and Salvador Artigas. That season, Valencia CF again lost a cup final, this time against Real Madrid (3-1). The Montjuïc curse returned once again: Real Madrid came into the game off one of their worst league campaigns in history, and lost Grosso and Amancio in the first half through injury, but they would defeat VCF to lift the trophy.
Di Stéfano’s first season at the helm of the team was one of the most intense, fondly remembered and exciting in Valencia CF’s history, ending with another La Liga title. Di Stéfano put together a new squad that was strong in defense with men like Sol, Aníbal, Jesús Martínez and Antón, protecting a safe pair of hands in goal: Abelardo. The reference point in an intelligent midfield was Pepe Claramunt; up front, the agile, fast Forment, Valdez, Sergio and Pellicer provided ideal resources for counterattacking play.
The 1970-71 season was the last with a 16-team league, and after the opening games Valencia CF were serious candidates for relegation. Little by little, results improved and they moved up to mid-table. The best performance of the campaign was a 0-2 win against FC Barcelona at the Camp Nou, with goals from Claramunt and Valdez and Abelardo saving a penalty, as they began to establish title credentials. The most memorable game was the last league match, played in Sarriá. Valencia CF came in as leaders with 43 points, whilst Barcelona and Atletico Madrid, who were facing each other, had 42 and 41, respectively. Di Stéfano’s team needed a point to seal the title, but lost 1-0 to Espanyol. However, a draw between their two rivals meant that they would be crowned champions for the fourth time. During the season, they would concede just 19 goals.
Once the league season was over, Valencia CF faced the Copa convinced that they could repeat the double achieved in 1944. They reached the final, eliminating Mallorca, Betis, Malaga and, in the semifinals, Sevilla, with eighteen goals scored in eight games. The stage for the final was the Santiago Bernabéu and the opposition, FC Barcelona –who eventually ran out 4-3 winners. The league title provided the opportunity to debut in the European Cup, the top competition in continental football. They started out with wins against Luxembourg and Hajduk Split, but in the third round fell to Ujpest Dosza.
Despite the fact that Valencia CF likely had a better team than that which won the league, in 1971-72 they placed runners-up. The additions of Quino, Adorno and Lico improved the potential of the team, although it was not enough to repeat the success of the previous campaign and Real Madrid were crowned champions. Once again, Valencia CF again lost a cup final that season: This time against Atletico Madrid, 2-1. Salcedo scored first, Valdez equalised and Jose Eulogio Gárate got the winner for Atletico. This defeat was a new setback for the more than 20,000 Valencianistas who attended the game.
In 1973, President Julio de Miguel bid farewell, one year after the death of manager Vicente Peris at Mestalla. After the president’s departure, Valencia CF had a middling campaign. In the first edition of the UEFA Cup -substitute competition for the Fairs Cup- the team debuted against Manchester City, but lost in the following round to Red Star Belgrade.Francisco Ros Casares took over from Julio de Miguel, with the board’s greatest success being the acquisition of land at Paterna where the future Ciudad Deportiva would be located.
Spanish football opened its borders, which allowed each team to have two foreign players in their ranks. One of the first to come to Mestalla was Salif Keita, a striker from Mali who had enjoyed success in French football. The other foreign signing was the Austrian, Kurt Jara. Unfortunately that season Valencia CF did not participate in European competition, for the first time since 1961. Valencia CF did, however, continue to have great players in their ranks, as was the case of Johnny Rep -a magnificent Dutchman who joined from one of the best European teams of the time: Ajax.
After the Ros Casares era came the turn of José Ramos Costa, proclaimed president in January of 1976. Under his presidency, the club won the cup in 1979 and European Cup Winners’ Cup in 1980, although economically they struggled -due to a great extent by the remodeling work done at Mestalla in anticipation of the 1982 World Cup.
DON’T SAY KEMPES, SAY GOAL
The start of the 1976-77 season began a completely different stage for Valencia CF. Paraguayan coach Heriberto Herrera took over and the new first team included, among others, Castellanos, Diarte, Carrete, Botubot, Arias and -above all- Mario Alberto Kempes.
Kempes is one of the most important players to have played for the club, both for his international successes (he won the 1978 World Cup with Argentina) and for his work at Valencia Club de Fútbol. Kempes was twice the top scorer in the Spanish league, in 1976-77 (24 goals) and 1977-78 (28 goals). He was also the top scorer in the World Cup celebrated in his homeland in 1978 and a key player in both the 1979 cup and European Cup Winners’ Cup victory in 1980. His charisma and scoring ability led to an Argentine journalist giving him the nickname ‘Matador’, and every Sunday at Mestalla there was a chant of ‘Don’t say Kempes, say goal.’ Having Kempes in the team, homegrown players such as Enrique Saura and Ricardo Arias impressing, and good performances from the newly signed Castellanos, Carrete and Botubot were the keys to the first season with Ramos Costa as president.
Another of the important names in Valencia CF history from that time is Ricardo Arias, the player with the most appearances for the club. For sixteen seasons, he was the protagonist in some of the most brilliant and saddest moments for Valencianistas. The Spanish-Frenchman Marcel Domingo replaced Heriberto Herrera at the helm of the team and was tasked with returning Valencia CF to Europe after a long absence. Domingo, who came from coaching Burgos, brought with him three players, among which the goalkeeper Manzanedo stood out.
Plenty of high quality players arrived during those seasons, including the skillful Spaniard Daniel Solsona and German World Cup winner Rainer Bonhof. The 1978-79 season was notable for the cup campaign for Valencia CF.
Pasieguito had come in to replace Domingo, and they faced a tough tie against Barcelona. The first leg had an adverse result: 4-1 to the Catalans. The tie appeared over and few believed in a comeback. However, at Mestalla Valencia CF turned the tie around and won 4-0 to go through –and eventually reach the final.
After the Barça tie were games against Segunda División opposition, and VCF swept past Alavés and Valladolid. In the final, they were pitted against Real Madrid at the Vicente Calderón. In the stands were 25,000 Valencian fans who waved ‘senyera’ regional flags in the Spanish capital, and the players wore a kit with the same colours. The team of Manzanedo, Carrete, Arias, Botubot, Cerveró, Bonhof, Castellanos, Solsona, Saura, Kempes, Felman and Tendillo won 2-0, with Kempes getting both goals and Arias a standout.
The celebrations would only increase the following season -in another year in European competition. Valencia CF played in the Cup Winners’ Cup, Pasieguito returned to the technical secretariat and Alfredo di Stefano was put in charge for a European assault that would eclipse the domestic campaign. The 1979-80 season was the most successful in continental competition for the club, as they won one of the major club trophies and eliminated BK Copenhagen, Glasgow Rangers, Barcelona, Nantes and, in the final, Arsenal. Some 7,000 Valencianistas traveled to Brussels to witness the game against the Gunners at the Heysel stadium. The team consisted of Pereira, Carrete, Arias, Tendillo, Botubot, Solsona, Bonhof, Subirats, Saura, Kempes and Pablo, with Castellanos replacing Subirats in extra time. After 120 minutes of play and with the score still 0-0, the destination of the cup was decided from the penalty spot. Kempes missed his spot kick, followed by Arsenal’s Ian Brady also failing to convert. Solsona, Pablo, Castellanos and Bonhof then found the net, as did all four Arsenal takers, and a second round of penalties was required. Finally, Ricardo Arias beat Pat Jennings and Pereira became the hero of the final by saving from Rix. Valencia CF achieved European glory.
VALENCIA IS RELEGATED TO THE SECOND DIVISION
The Valencia CF side of 1980-81 are best remembered for winning the European Supercup. This competition, in which the winner of the European Cup played the winner of the Cup Winners’ Cup, had not been won by any Spanish team until that year.
The opponents for Valencia CF were an old acquaintance: Nottingham Forest, the current champions of Europe and the Supercup holders. The English side won the first leg 2-1 at home, with Felman scoring for VCF. The second leg saw Valencia CF field a starting lineup of Sempere, Cerveró, Botubot, Arias, Tendillo, Castellanos, Saura, Solsona, Morena, Kempes and Felman. The only goal of the match was scored by Fernando Morena, and the team lifted the Supercup on away goals. In the league, Valencia CF had a chance at the title, but eventually placed fourth –three points behind winners Real Sociedad. Two stars of the team had departed by then: Mario Alberto Kempes and Fernando Morena, who returned to their countries of origin to play for River Plate and Peñarol, respectively.
From then on, the social and sporting situation began to worsen. The celebration of the World Cup in Spain meant the club ran into debt, due to remodelling work at the stadium. In 1981-82, VCF finished in fifth position. Whilst a top player had been signed in Frank Arnessen, injuries meant that he could only realise his full potential in his first year.
For 1982-83, Miljan Miljanic came in as coach. The highpoints of the season were the victory at Mestalla against Diego Maradona’s Barça, the return of Kempes to the club after his short spell at River, and eliminating Manchester United, Banik Ostrava and Spartak Moscow in the UEFA Cup.
Besides that, it was a difficult campaign, and Miljanic would be replaced by Koldo Aguirre with seven matchdays remaining.
Valencia CF came into the final league game of the year with the obligation to win and wait on the results of their rivals, as they flirted with relegation. Their match, at Mestalla, was against a Real Madrid side playing for the league title. Valencia CF won 1-0, with a goal by Tendillo, and the other scorelines also worked in their favour: Racing Santander lost against Atletico Madrid and Celta Vigo against Valladolid, whilst Las Palmas were beaten 1-5 by eventual La Liga champions Athletic Club. Valencia CF stayed up.
The next two seasons (1983-84 and 1984-85) were transitional. Ramos Costa had left the presidency, replaced by Vicente Tormo. The debt of the club amounted to more than 2,000 million pesetas and the number of season ticket holders had suffered a marked decrease. Given the poor financial situation at the club, several youth players were brought into the first team –including future legend Fernando Gomez Colomer.
The situation had reached an unsustainable limit. Many players were not being paid, and the club was heavily in debt. Relegation followed, in the 1985-86 season. The team did not start the season badly, but there was a continual decline in results. Valdez was sacked after a 6-0 defeat on Matchday 22, and Di Stéfano returned to the dugout. With four games to go, Valencia CF were on the brink, although a win at Sevilla’s Sánchez Pizjuán (0-2) and at home to Hercules (3-1) gave a glimmer of hope of survival. A 3-0 loss at the Camp Nou, with Cadiz and Betis drawing, meant 55 seasons in the elite of Spanish football came to an end. Valencia CF were relegated, in the toughest moment in the club’s history.
THE RESURGENCE OF VALENCIA
Players, managers and many fans agreed that the drop to the Segunda División actually served as a chance to start afresh. Fifteen years later, the club would be in a much stronger position and would come close to winning the Champions League. The president of Valencia CF after the relegation was Arturo Tuzón. The fans stuck by the club and the number of season ticket holders increased, helping the club to return to the top flight as Segunda División champions at the first time of asking.
A solid foundation was formed in the second division of Spanish football, with Fernando, Quique, Giner, Voro, Revert, Arroyo, Fenoll and Bossio accompanying proven players Sempere, Subirats and Arias. After promotion, Valencia CF sought to consolidate their position in the top flight. The 1987-88 season saw the team finish in 14th place, in a last campaign for Alfredo di Stéfano in the dugout in his third spell as coach.
Replacing the legend the following season was Víctor Espárrago, formerly of Cadiz. The Uruguayan was a serious man who conveyed his personality to the team. He took Valencia CF to a third position in the league in 1988-89 and to the runner-up spot a year later. The 1989-90 featured a return to European action, as VCF bested Victoria Bucharest before losing out to Porto. With the La Liga season already underway, Bulgarian striker Luboslav Penev joined from CSKA Sofia, although the club would say goodbye to Javier Subirats after twelve years as a Valencianista.
For the next season there was just one reinforcement: Roberto Fernández, who returned from a spell at FC Barcelona. That year, Valencia CF placed seventh, were eliminated in the UEFA Cup by Roma at the quarterfinal stage, and also fell in the Spanish cup at the same point to Mallorca. Recognising the need to strengthen the squad, the board made an important investment before the 1991-92 season. Guus Hiddink, who had won the European Cup with PSV Eindhoven, was appointed coach. Striker Rommel Fernandez and left back Leonardo were the star names added to the squad. In the league, the team finished in fourth place, whilst in the Copa del Rey they were again eliminated in the quarter finals –this time by Real Madrid. Off the pitch, the club turned a profit and justified the spending measures taken.
There was a great excitement about the possibilities for the new Valencia CF, and there were important moments such as the inauguration of the Ciudad Deportiva de Paterna, the transformation of the club into an SAD and the presence of the Spanish team playing their home matches in the 1992 Olympic Games at Mestalla. Ricardo Arias, the player who has played most seasons and official matches for the club in history, retired that season. In his place another Valencian defender arrived: Paco Camarasa.
BACK TO WINNING TROPHIES
A new phase began for Valencia CF in 1992, when they became an SAD. Sociedad Anónima Deportiva. Social turmoil had been prominent in the preceding five years. After the indisputable success of Arturo Tuzón’s economic management, a European defeat against Karslruhe supposed the beginning of the end of his time as president of Valencia CF.
The 1993-94 season started well, and they were soon in first position in LaLiga. They began the UEFA Cup eliminating French side Nantes. In the summer they had signed Predrag Mijatovic, who became one of the best players of the decade. On November 2nd, 1993, Valencia CF played the second leg of the second round of the UEFA Cup in Germany. In the first leg, Hiddink’s side had won 3-1. However, a 7-0 defeat in the return fixture was the greatest European humiliation in VCF history. Hiddink was dismissed after losing in Gijón the following weekend.
Guus Hiddink was replaced by Francisco Real, who until then had been a member of the technical secretariat. He failed to improve morale and results and, after five matchdays, made way for Héctor Núñez -a Uruguayan who had previously played for the club in the 1960s. Meanwhile, the board of directors was falling apart. A series of internal resignations and scandals ended with the resignation of Tuzón, who was provisionally replaced by Melchor Hoyos. An electoral process opened that would take Francisco Roig to the presidency, after winning in the polls over the other candidate, Ramón Romero. Meanwhile, the star of the team, Lubo Penev, was diagnosed with testicular cancer and ruled out for a year –he would recover completely. In further bad news, striker Rommel Fernández died in a car accident in September 1993. A brighter note from the season was the emergence of Gaizka Mendieta, who played his first games for the club after signing from Castellón.
On March 9th, 1994, Roig was elected president. His first decision, hours after winning the election, was to remove Héctor Núñez as coach and appoint Jesus Martinez as sporting director. Assistant coach Jose Manuel Rielo took temporary charge before the surprising reappointment of Guus Hiddink, just five months after his dismissal. For the next campaign, Roig signed 1994 World Cup the winning coach, Carlos Alberto Parreira, to take over in the dugout. Other notable signings were Andoni Zubizarreta, goalkeeper for the Spanish national team, and Russian striker Oleg Salenko, the top scorer in the World Cup.
In the 1994-95 season, Valencia reached the final of the Copa del Rey, but not before dismissing their coach. Parreira was sacked and Rielo took temporary charge again.The Copa del Rey final was played against Deportivo La Coruña on June 24th, 1995, and was suspended after a downpour that fell at the Santiago Bernabéu with the score at 1-1. The remaining time had to be played three days later, and a goal from Alfredo meant VCF fell short. The fans nevertheless welcomed the players back to Mestalla on their return from the capital.
The 1995-96 season began with another new coach. Veteran Luis Aragones was the man who would take VCF to runners-up in LaLiga. Atletico Madrid, who had signed Lubo Penev, were the league and Copa del Rey winners that season. ‘Pedja’ Mijatovic left for Real Madrid when they met his buyout clause, in an unforgivable affront to the Valencianismo.
In the summer of 1996, Francisco Roig fulfilled his aspiration to sign Romario. The Brazilian striker, however, clashed with Aragonés and was later loaned out to Flamengo. His arrival coincided with that of Argentine striker Claudio ‘Piojo’ López, another future idol to the Valencia CF fans. Poor results in the league caused the dismissal of the Aragonés, who was replaced by Jorge Valdano. The Argentine coach made his debut in the dugout in November 1996, but his time would be unsuccessful: VCF were eliminated by Segunda División side UD Las Palmas in the Copa del Rey, and by eventual winners Schalke 04 in the UEFA Cup.
In December of that year, Valencia CF hired another South American star, Argentine Ariel ‘Burrito’ Ortega. Valdano began the 1997-98 season, but was dismissed on the third matchday after having lost against Mallorca, Barcelona and Racing Santander. Jesus Martínez was also dismissed as technical secretary, a position that was taken over by Javier Subirats.
The replacement for Valdano was Claudio Ranieri, who soon clashed with Romario -upon the striker’s return from Flamengo- and Ortega. Roig resigned as president. Pedro Cortés, until then vice-president, assumed the management of the club on December 2nd, 1997. The only signing that they made in the winter was Romanian striker Adrian Ilie, whose first few months as a Valencia CF player were spectacular. The club finished the league season in ninth position, gaining the right to participate in the Intertoto Cup -a new competition that gave access to the UEFA Cup.
Ranieri began the 1998-99 campaign qualifying Valencia CF, through the Intertoto Cup, for the UEFA Cup -in which they were eliminated by Liverpool. In LaLiga they finished fourth, thus gaining the right to participate in the Champions League. The big success of that season was in the Copa del Rey: Valencia CF won the competition on June 26th, 1999, at the Olympic stadium in Seville, by beating Atletico Madrid 3-0 (a goal from Mendieta and two from López). It was their first trophy for 20 years.
Following the success, Ranieri left the club –ironically to join Atletico Madrid. Argentine coach Héctor Cúper replaced him after impressing at Mallorca, and VCF also brought in ‘Kily’ Gonzalez for the first team playing squad. Valencia CF’s winning momentum allowed them to start the 1999-2000 season with another trophy. The club claimed the Spanish Supercopa after beating FC Barcelona.
In LaLiga, they finished in third position, behind champions Deportivo La Coruña and FC Barcelona. However, the greatest success came in Europe: in the club’s first participation in the Champions League, the team reached the final and astonished the world with their football and ambition. Unfortunately, in that final in Paris, on May 24th, 2000, they were beaten 3-0 by Real Madrid.
Claudio López joined Lazio, Farinós went to Inter and Gerard departed for Barcelona before the 2000-2001 campaign. Cúper continued as coach and some of the most important signings that summer were Diego Alonso, John Carew, Ruben Baraja, Roberto Ayala and Fabio Aurelio. The first half of the season went well, and they led the way for more than ten matchdays. However, after the Christmas break, Champions League commitments began to take their toll, as Europe became the primary focus.
After overcoming the two group stages in the Champions League, Cúper’s team eliminated Arsenal in the quarter finals and Leeds United in the semi-finals, and prepared to play Bayern Munich in the final in Milan. On May 23rd at the San Siro. Mendieta scored a penalty early on match, Cañizares saved a Mehmet Scholl spot kick and Stefan Effenberg equalised with another penalty. After extra time, the teams would face a shootout to decide who would be European champions. In an agonising moment, VCF fell short at the final hurdle once more. The blow of losing in Milan was difficult to overcome, and Valencia CF fell to the fifth place in the LaLiga table –missing out on qualification for the 2001-2002 Champions League.
The month of July saw president Pedro Cortés resign for personal reasons. The presidency was assumed by Jaime Ortí, who expressed his intention to maintain the good work that had led the club to be admired throughout Europe. There were also changes to the coaching staff and squad: Rafa Benítez, after earning promotion with Tenerife, replaced Héctor Cúper as coach. Mendieta, Deschamps, Milla, Zahovic and Gerardo left, and in came Marchena, Mista, Curro Torres, Rufete, De los Santos and Salva.
FROM 2001/02 LEAGUE TO THE "COPA DEL REY 07/08"
In the 2001-02 and 2003-04 seasons, Valencia CF experienced some of the most glorious moments in their history. The 2004 campaign coincided with the 85th anniversary of the club’s founding. Despite the emergence of large budgets and big money signings, Valencia CF were one of the best sides in the world at the beginning of the 21st century.
Their consolidation as a standout team came in the 2001-02 season, with a first LaLiga title in 31 years. After an exciting preseason, they immediately established themselves as title contenders. The first match of the campaign saw them beat rivals Real Madrid, and they went on an unbeaten record of 11 consecutive matches –bettering a previous record from the time they had last won the title, in 1970-71. It was not all plain sailing, however. After a defeat in A Coruña against Deportivo, the team bounced back to keep in contention, overcoming a 2-0 deficit against Espanyol for a morale boostin 2-3 triumph.
Benítez’s team went through a minor crisis after losing 1-0 at the Santiago Bernabéu, but overcame adversity and took four wins and two draws in the next six games. The matches against Las Palmas, Athletic Club, Alavés, Real Zaragoza and above all the superb triumph against FC Barcelona gave enough security to go into the final ten matches in a strong position. The second match against Espanyol that year proved to be decisive. VCF again went into half time in trouble, 0-1 down and with Amadeo Carboni sent off. However, two goals from Ruben Baraja earned Valencia CF the victory. That matchday, Real Madrid lost to Real Sociedad and the gap stood at three points.
That brought the title chase down to an historic date: May 5th, 2002, at La Rosaleda. Valencia CF played Malaga with the chance to become LaLiga champions. In the end, VCF did not have to suffer too much. An early goal from Ayala and another strike from Fabio Aurelio just before half time earned victory, and a fifth LaLiga title for Valencia CF. Celebrations of the first title in 31 years took place in the stadium, on the streets of Andalusia and, of course, in Valencia. Hundreds of thousands of Valencianistas kept the party going until the early hours, and there was a huge reception for the team when they touched down at Manises airport. Despite rainy weather, the town hall, basilica, and government building were decked out in black and white, and the celebration reached its climax at Mestalla itself.
The title gave way to a 2002-03 campaign that had a somewhat bittersweet flavour. Valencia CF started out with the same team that had won the previous year, and went unbeaten in the opening eight matchdays, but dropped off before the end to place fifth. That final position meant that Valencia CF would not qualify for the Champions League, and would instead be entered into the UEFA Cup for the 2003-04 season.
A run of six consecutive victories at the beginning of the season, besting opponents such as Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid, Malaga, Osasuna, FC Barcelona and Espanyol, made clear that VCF meant business. On May 9 2004, Valencia CF achieved their sixth league title, beating Sevilla at the Sanchez Pizjuan through goals from legendary players Vicente and Baraja. They would earn 77 points and claim 23 wins that year–more than any other side- as well as scoring 71 goals and conceding just 27.
Once again, the celebrations took over the city of Valencia, providing images that will live long in the memory for fans.
Alongside the league successes, progress was steadily made in the UEFA Cup. The team opened up their European challenge against AIK Solna in October. Two 1-0 wins took them through to the next round, against Maccabi Haifa. The match at Mestalla against the Israeli side would end with 0-0 draw, and there was drama surrounding the location of the return leg. The military situation in Israel meant that UEFA called for the match to be played at a neutral ground, in Rotterdam. The result was a 4-0 win for VCF to take them safely through.In the third round they were drawn against Besiktas, marking the first time Valencia CF had faced Turkish opposition. Another close result in the first leg (3-2) brought uncertainty for the return match away from home, but VCF obtained a conclusive victory, 0-2.
In the Last 16, they faced another Turkish opponent; a Gençlerbirligi side that had eliminated Parma, Sporting Lisbon and Blackburn Rovers. The match on March 11th was on the brink of being suspended after a terrorist bombing in Madrid, but would go ahead and ended 1-0 to Gençlerbirligi. Valencia CF fought back with a little piece of history in the second leg. As the game went into extra time, Vicente scored the first ‘silver goal’ in UEFA Cup history, and put them into the quarter finals with a 2-0 final result. Girondins were next up, and the French team were dispatched courtesy of two 2-1 victories. Optimism reigned supreme in Valencia, and there was much excitement about their European campaign when they were pitted against regional rivals Villarreal CF.
The first match was defined by equality and excitement, despite the 0-0 result. Valencia CF were the better side, but needed a good result in the second leg –held amidst a party atmosphere at Mestalla. As anticipated, the game was another vibrant meeting of two sides who played attractive football. Progress to the final would be decided by just a single goal: Mista was felled in the box, and converted the penalty himself, then Valencia CF used their impenetrable defence to ward off the danger provided by Villarreal. The 0-1 result saw VCF through, at the expense of their neighbours.
Thus, the two-time Champions League runners-up had a date with destiny: Another European final, and a chance to put the memories of Paris and Milan behind them. Gothenburg was the venue, May 20th the long-awaited day. A tremendous performance saw Valencia CF crowned UEFA Cup winners for 2004. Mista and Vicente provided the goals in a 2-0 win that marked a first European trophy since the 1980 Super Cup, and confirmed an historic double for the club. The European Super Cup, won against Porto in Monaco on August 27th, 2004, made that year the greatest ever in the history of the entity and, on January 11th of 2005, Valencia CF were named the best in the world by the International Federation of Football History and Statistics (IFFHS).
The last trophy of the decade was the 2007-08 Copa del Rey –Valencia CF’s seventh. The team successively eliminated Real Unión Club de Irún, Real Betis, Atletico Madrid and FC Barcelona, the latter after an epic 3-2 victory in the second leg at Mestalla. The final, held at the Vicente Calderon against Getafe CF on April 16th, 2008, was won by Valencia CF thanks to a resounding 3-1 result. Two goals from Alexis Ruano and Juan Mata in the first 10 minutes put the team on their way, and a Fernando Morientes strike seven minutes from time sealed the win and the prestigious domestic cup.