March 5, 2013 at 2:30 pm
On a warm Summer’s evening back in May 2000, it was the first time in their history that Valencia were about to take on Real Madrid in their first ever UEFA Champions League Final. Despite losing 3-0, the future was starting to look bright for the ‘Valencianistas’ as they went on to play their second successive Champions League Final against Bayern Munich in Milan, whist big signings such as John Carew, Vicente, Fabio Aurelio, Pablo Aimar, Roberto Ayala and Ruben Baraja would soon staple them to the tag of La Liga dominance.
Nine years on and the club that everyone thought would rule the Primera Division, were soon struck by widespread rumours that hit the back pages of the Worlds top newspapers persisting that the club were in massive debt. It was then President Manuel Llorente announced the clubs only hope to help balance the books were to sell their prized assets, the jewels of their crown, disregarding the fact that the team had returned to the Champions League for the first time in a decade.
Valencia fans can only stop to think and wonder ‘what if’ after they saw top talents David Villa, David Silva and Juan Mata being sold to help their financial situation and keep the club afloat not long after they were brimming in UEFA Cup glory under Rafa Benitez. Looking back through each and every squad the clubs had since the 1999-2000 season to they’re current one, you have to marvel in the idea that the good times of being on the brink of European glory, were actually just glossing over the disaster before it actually struck.
For a club that is one of three teams to have won 5 or more continental trophies (the other two being Real Madrid and Barcelona), they have been more of a feeder club in recent years selling very talented players when they should have built on their success by keeping the ones they had as well as adding to it ,if they were hoping to, like the Spanish press kindly put it ‘dominate’ the La Liga in years to come. Between 2000 and 2012, the club had sold a host of elite players that included: Fabio Aurelio, John Carew, Gaizka Mendieta, Pablo Aimar, Didier Deschamps, Mohamed Sissoko, Raul Albiol, Edu, Vicente, Patrick Kluivert, Pablo Hernandez, Migel, Asier Del Horno, Marchena, Isco, Jordi Alba, Nikola Zigic, Joaquin, Fernando Morientes, David Silva, David Villa and Juan Mata alongside many other top internationals.
Now, over a span of 12 years, this endless list of players, good enough to make a dream team on a fantasy football game being sold maybe suggests Valencia were in trouble before the press had actually found out. Along with the rise and fall of a football club that had so much potential, so has the fortress of the famous Mestalla Stadium. The 55,000 seated arena was once one of the most feared in European football with many English teams often struggling there, as Chelsea became the first English club in 40 years to beat them back in 2007. Some could argue along with the team, the stadium is now a shadow of its former self, as PSG recently eased a 2-1 victory in the first leg of this seasons Champions League Round of 16.
However, not all is bleak for the ‘Los Murcielagos’ as it was announced in 2011 by President Manuel Llorente that the club’s debt had been decreased and with plans to build a new stadium, this could indeed see the reincarnation of bringing the club back to the top, as there’s no doubt, looking at the rich history that the club has of unearthing top talent, that they could in fact add to their previous European successes.