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- Valencia CF
Address: L'Antiga Senda de Senet, 11 Spain
Phone: (+34) 96 337 26 26 -
Official URL: http://www.valenciacf.es
Chairman: Manuel Llorente
Club Director: Braulio Vázquez
Valencia may still be in the shadow of the two traditional big guns in Spanish football, Real Madrid and Barça, but they are still one of the biggest names in European football and are considered contenders for major honours at the start of each season.
Since beginning life in 1919, the club has gone on to become one of the most successful in Spain winning the league title on six occasions, the Copa del Rey on six occasions, the UEFA Cup three times, one European Cup Winners' Cup and two UEFA Super Cups.
So well respected are the team known as Los Ché (Els Xes in Valencian) that they are members of the elitist G-14 group of clubs and considered to be one of the strongest on the continent.
Founded by first president Octavio Augusto Milego Diaz, his election famously decided by a coin toss, the club moved to the Mestalla in 1923 but its progress was soon to be halted by the Spanish civil war when the arena was largely dismantled. Success came in the 1940s with a Cup triumph in ’41 and the championship the following year, repeated twice more that decade.
A fairly barren 1950's was eclipsed by European success (two Fairs Cups, the old UEFA Cup) the following decade and then trophies galore in the 1970s. The great Alfredo Di Stéfano took the coaching reigns in ’70, immediately winning the league and debuting Valencia in the European Cup, marking the beginning of some fruitful years which saw the likes of Johnny Rep and, most notably, club idol Mario Kempes pull on the jersey, culminating in triumph over Arsenal in the final of the now defunct Cup Winners' Cup in ‘80.
Down And Up
It all turned sour in the 1980s when, despite starting the decade with victory over the great Nottingham Forest side in the European Super Cup, the club would struggle badly with form and finances, leading to eventual relegation in ’86 after 55 years in the top flight.
A number of talented coaches would take leading roles at the club without much success in the 1990's including Guus Hiddink, Carlos Alberto Parreira, Luis Aragonés and Jorge Valdano, recruiting the likes of Andoni Zubizarreta, Predrag Mijatovic, Romario and Claudio López to improve fortunes on-field.
Former Fiorentina boss Ranieri began the current period of prosperity with some scintillating football and a Copa Del Rey triumph over Atletico Madrid in ’99, followed up by an ultimately trophy-less spell under Héctor Cúper who, commendably, guided the club to consecutive Champions League Final appearances, losing to Real Madrid and Bayern Munich in 2000 and 2001, respectively.
Rafa Benítez, a former Real Madrid trainer, became the unlikely success story after arriving from Tenerife in ’01, achieving instant success with less financial backing from the board than his predecessors, ultimately the reason for his departure three years later. The club endured difficult times after the highly successful Benítez departed for Liverpool in 2004.
Benitez brought home the second championship of his tenure that year and also a UEFA Cup, the first title arriving in 2002 after a 21 year wait. His replacement, a returning Claudio Ranieri, failed to gel a clutch of new signings and the team dropped out of the reckoning for honours, but now many see a Valencia on the rise once more.
Much of the club’s success domestically and in Europe is aided by the intimidating and tempestuous 53,000 capacity Estadio Mestalla - named after one of the local irrigation channels - which has seen the hosts dismantle a number of higher profile clubs with breathtaking ease over the years. Its days are numbered though, with Los Ché set for re-housing in a brand new facility on the outskirts in 2009, the club’s 90th anniversary.
Valencia kick-off 2006/2007 with realistic aspirations of the Spanish title after securing the accolade twice in the last four years. Former Getafe coach and ex-Valencia player Quique Sanchez Flores guided Los Ché to Champions League qualification in his debut season last term. With the likes of Fernando Morientes and Joaquin reinforcing the squad this summer, the club intends to challenge for all the big prizes.
An incredible spate of injuries scuppered their ambitions, however, and Valencia were left to battle just to finish in the top four. Success in Europe came to end in the quarter finals of the Champions League with a last-minute defeat against Chelsea, but the team did manage to clinch a berth that gave them access to play at Europe's top table again this term.
The long-running off-field dispute between the club's sporting director, and former player, Amedeo Carboni and Sánchez Flores came to a head after the end of the season.
With the pair at loggerheads ever since Carboni's appointment the year before the club sacked him and gave their full backing to the coach. The Italian's removal freed Sánchez Flores to make the moves into the transfer market that he wanted and a busy summer ensued.
Height was added to the forward line with Javier Arizmendi and Serbian striker Nikola Zigic both arriving, while the experienced Iván Helguera arrived from Real Madrid and goalkeeper Timo Hildebrand was signed from VfB Stuttgart as Santiago Cañizares' long-term successor. Expectations are high, but then they always have been at a club where looking to knock Madrid or Barça off their pedestal's is a yearly aim.
Sanchez Flores was dismissed in late 2007 despite a decent start to the season. His replacement, Ronald Koeman, almost got Valencia relegated, although he did lead the side to Copa del Rey success, eliminating Barca in the semi-finals before beating Getafe in the final - when the players are said to have ignored his pre-match instructions and chosen their own formation.
Following Koeman's departure, Unai Emery stabilised the club, even after the high-profile departures of David Villa and David Silva. Deep in debt, Valencia still impressed on the field, however, securing back-to-back third-placed finishes in 2009-10 and 2010-11.