International 101: Valencia CF
Valencia CF, founded in 1919, is one of the most successful teams in Spanish soccer history. Located on the Mediterranean Coast of Spain, the club has won six top-league La Liga titles, the last coming in 2004. In addition, Valencia has won the Spanish competition Copa del Rey seven times, and has been highly successful in European competitions, winning the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup in 1980, and finishing runner-up in back-to-back years in the UEFA Champions League in 2000-01. Their home ground is the historic Estadio Mestalla, one of the more intimidating environments in European soccer.
Founded in 1919, Valencia CF became a Spanish soccer powerhouse in the 1940’s. The club won three La Liga championships in a row during the decade, along with two Copa Del Rey titles, Spain’s annual cup competition.
From the 1950’s through the 1970’s, Valencia found success in international and European contests. The club won the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup in back-to-back years in 1962-63, and qualified for its first European Cup in 1970.
In the past 15 years, Valencia CF has seen a return to dominance in Spanish football. The squad won the Copa Del Rey for the first time in 20 years during the 1998-1999 season, finished runner-up in the UEFA Champions League in back-to-back years suring the 1999-2000 and 2000-01 seasons, and won the La Liga league championship in 2002 and 2004. Valencia’s most recent hardware came during the 2007-08 season, winning the Copa Del Rey.
- The 2003-2004 La Liga championship season saw Valencia finish with a 23-8-7 record, finishing just ahead of perennial league powerhouse Real Madrid. It was the second league championship in three years for Valencia.
Valencia CF’s chief rival remains Levante UD, who are also based in the city of Valencia. Levante is currently fourth in the La Liga standings for 2011-12, directly under Valencia. Two other Spanish clubs also are considered rivals of Valencia, Hércules CF and Villarreal CF.
Valencia CF is sometimes referred to as “Los Che.” While hard to translate to English from the Valencian dialect, Los Che is means something along the lines of “the blokes.” The iconic Valencia crest features a unique bat logo on top of a shield with yellow and red stripes. The origins for the use of the bat are numerous. For one, bats are extremely common in the Valencia area. However, there is another story that some believe to be the true source. In 1238, King James I was preparing to re-enter Valencia and reclaim it from the Moors. It is said that a bat landed at the top of his flag, as he believed it to be good luck. After King James I won Valencia back, the bat was added to the coat of arms, and there it remained.
Puchades played for Valencia CF from 1946 to 1958, and became the standout name of Valencia soccer during that timeframe. During his career, he won one La Liga championship and two Copa del Rey titles. Puchades also played over 20 matches with the Spanish national team.
Mario Alberto Kempes
Kempes, a forward nicknamed “El Toro” and “El Matador”, won two goal-scoring titles while with Valencia during the 1976-77 and 1977-78 season, scoring 24 and 28 goals, respectively. The Argentine was a huge factor in Argentina’s 1978 World Cup championship.
Arias played 16 seasons with Valencia CF, which remains a club record. The defender played in a total of 374 games for the team, from 1976-92. He was given the title, “The Spanish Beckenbauer”.
Quincoces coached Valencia CF from 1948-1954, as well as for one year from the end of 1958 to September of 1959. Under his tutelage, the squad won the Copa del Rey during the 1948-49 season and finished second in La Liga at the end of the 1949 and 1953 seasons. Quincoces played for the Spanish national team during his playing days.