2001/2002 SEASON - VALENCIA CF WINS THE FIFTH LEAGUE  
 

PRESIDENT
Jaime Ortí Ruiz
THE TEAM
COACH Rafael Benítez Maudes
GOALKEEPERS Cañizares, Palop, Jonathan
DEFENDERS Angloma, Ayala, Carboni, Curro Torres, Djukic, Fabio Aurelio, Garrido, Marchena, Navarro, Pellegrino
MIDFIELDERS Aimar, Albelda, Angulo, Baraja, De los Santos, Jandro, Kily González, Rufete, Serban, Vicente
FORWARDS Carew, Ilie, Juan Sánchez, Mista, Salva
Valencia CF, 2001/2002 league champion Jaime Ortí, the new president of Valencia CF Santiago Cañizares raised in Mestalla the 2001/2002 league trophy The team was received by more than 100,000 supporters in Valencia City

SUMMARY OF THE SEASON

Rafa Benítez, the coach that made Valencia CF league champion 31 years laterThe tragical season lived by Valencia CF the previous season, together with Mendieta's transfer, and the president's dismissal, made the supporters look at the future with hesitation. The summer of 2001 was very controversial. There were many rumours, with the possible transfer of Kily González, and the possible hiring of Marcelo Salas. But nothing of this happened.
Valencia CF surprised everybody hiring a young coach, with not much experience, but with a promising future. After negotiating with many trainers, Valencia hired Rafa Benítez, a coach that had achieved the promotion with CD Tenerife the previous season. In the presentation of the team in August, Rafa Benítez promised the supporters a championship, and he did it.
Benítez took Miguel Angel Mista and Curro Torres with him, two players yielded by Valencia CF to Tenerife. Another important hiring was Francisco Rufete, who gave an excellent result. Other players hired were Salva (from Atletico Madrid), De Los Santos (from Malaga) and Marchena (from Benfica). Besides Mendieta, the players that left the team were Deschamps (Monaco), Zahovic (Benfica), Soria (Córdoba), Diego Alonso (yielded to Atlético Madrid) and Luis Milla, who left the practice of football.
Valencia CF started the season without Mendieta, but soon found the new idol, Pablo Aimar, who showed his great class with his goals and assistances. With him, in the midfield, Rubén Baraja became the reference of the valencian play. Two great players who were the symbol of Valencia CF champion.
The league was one of the most fue una de las más exciting and intense lived by the valencian supporters. After a long season full of suffering, Valencia CF was proclaimed champion of the spanish league for the fifth time in its history, 31 years after the last time. On May 5th, 2002, in a sold-out Rosaleda Stadium at Málaga, with more than 3.000 valencian supporters, Valencia CF achieved the victory and won the League. The city of Valencia was invaded by joy. The team arrived from Malaga on the following day and was received by an impressive number of supporters aficionados, despite the hard rain that was falling. The team crossed the city in a convertible bus, cheered by thousands of supporters in the street, until they reached Mestalla Stadiu, where the final party took place. It was an unforgettable day for the valencian supporters. In the last league match, Valencia CF lived a magical night at Mestalla. The team won the match, Angloma said good-bye and was tributed by the supporters, Palop stopped a penalty and, the most important, the champion received the Cup.
But not everything was happiness. In the King's Cup Valencia CF was eliminated in a controversial decision of the Spanish Federation, although the team had won the match versus Novelda. The coach of Valencia CF, Rafa Benítez, lined up four foreign players and Novelda denounced it. The team delegate, Juan Cruz Sol, resigned, and Benítez lived his most difficult moments as coach of Valencia CF.
In the UEFA Cup, Valencia CF made a good performance. Mestalla's team reached the quarter-finals, and was defeatd by Inter Milan, coached by the ex-Valencia CF trainer Héctor Cúper. Valencia was eliminated, but this let them concentrate on the league to win the title.
Four players of Valencia CF joined the spanish national team to play the World Cup at Japan and Korea: Cañizares, Curro Torres, Albelda and Baraja. Ayala, Aimar and Kily played the championship with the Argentina and De Los Santos with Uruguay.


NATIONAL LEAGUE CHAMPIONSHIP

Valencia CF, Spanish League championThe league season could not start better, because Valencia defeated Real Madrid at Mestalla in the first match bringing the hope to the supporters. Real Madrid arrived with all their stars, and with the pressure of the national media, but Valencia won eith authority. Nevertheless, the league would not be an easy road. Despitee the first valencian victory, the style of the team was not convincent. Valencia was a defensively unbeatable block, and remained 13 weeks unbeaten, until the match at Anoeta where Valencia lost versus Real Sociedad, but from these 13 matches, 8 ended in a tie.
Then came the defeat versus Deportivo, that left Valencia CF out of the Champions League positions. Valencia's, Rafa Benítez, was i a hard situation, and there were rumours that he could be fired if Valencia lost the next match. But then, the flexion point of Valencia CF arrived. On December 15th, 2001, in the Olympic Stadium of Montjuïc (Barcelona), Valencia achieved an heroical overcome. The che team reached the halftime losing 2-0 versus Espanyol, everything seemed to be over and the coach was more out than in. But Valencia return to the field and made a spectacular second half. With goals scored by Rufete and Adrian Ilie, Valencia won the match 2-3, and set the starting point to an unforgettable end of season. The team had changed, and wanted to make clear that they wanted to fight for the league.
From here to the end, the league was a hard fight with Real Madrid. Real counted with the support of the national mass media, but Valencia had a more powerful weapon, the illusion and de support of an untiring fans that took their team to the victoty. In the 30th week, Valencia visited Rayo Vallecano's stadium as leader, but in a bad match Valencia was defeated, and lost also the leadership. But Valencia did not give up, instead of that, the team made an impressive take off. In a spectacular end of league, from the 8 last matches Valencia won 7 and tied one. In the 34th week, on April 14th, Valencia had the same points as Real Madrid (but was second due to the goal average), tied at Son Moix versus RCD Mallorca. Curiously, this draw gave the leadership to Valencia, because on the following day Real Madrid was beaten by Osasuna at Pamplona. Valencia had become leader.
Mestalla exploded full of joy when at 23.21 of the Saturday, April 27th, 2002, the referee Medina Cantalejo whistled the end of the match that Valencia CF had played versus Espanyol and meant another victory, three points more. Menwhile, at Anoeta, Real Sociedad had beaten Real Madrid. The victory versus Espanyol can be taken as the victory of the heart, the fight and the faith of the players and of the 53.500 spectators that filled Mestalla and that never gave up suppporting their team. Valencia overcame a goal by Espanyol, with only ten players, and with a sensational match by Rubén Baraja. Once again versus Espanyol, Valencia completed a heroical match. The championship was very close, only 3 points were missing to become champions.
The date of May 5th, 2002, will always remain in the memory of the history of Valencia CF. The team visited a full La Rosaleda Stadium, versus Málaga, with more than 3.000 valencian supporters. The match was decisive. Two goals, scored by Ayala and Fabio Aurelio, opened the door of the history for Valencia: 31 years later, the league was won. The team of Rafa Benítez was faithful to its style, to that discipline, that order and that work that took to this success, to this fifth league championship. Valencia CF had won the league one week before the end.
El Valencia CF se proclamó campeón de Liga en Málaga, a falta de una jornadaThe city of Valencia exploded in a neverendig celebration. On the following day, despite the hard rain that was falling, the team was welcomed by thousands of supporters who celebrated the victory. The party took the players through all the city in a convertible bus, The celebrations ended in the Stadium of Mestalla, where the team celebrated the victory with the supporters.
In the last match, the captain Cañizares received the cup. Valencia CF achieved its fifth league and recovered his place between the biggest teams. Nothing could stop the valencian spirit.
Without a clear scorer in the team, many players contributedto the final victory. The scorers of Valencia CF this season were: Rubén Baraja (7 goals), Salva , Mista and Rufete (5 goals), Aimar, Angulo and Sánchez (4 goals), Kily González (3 goals), Albelda, Ayala, Ilie and Vicente (2 goals), Carew, De Los Santos, Fabio Aurelio, Marchena, Pelegrino (1 goal). These were the results and the final classification:

DAYRESULT
1Valencia 1 - R. Madrid 0
2Valladolid 1 - Valencia 1
3Valencia 1 - Las Palmas 0
4Ath. Bilbao 2 - Valencia 2
5Valencia 0 - Alavés 0
6Celta 1 - Valencia 1
7Valencia 1 - Villareal 0
8Barcelona 2 - Valencia 2
9Valencia 2 - Zaragoza 0
10Sevilla 1 - Valencia 1
11Valencia 2 - Rayo 1
12Osasuna 0 - Valencia 0
13Valencia 0 - Tenerife 0
14R. Sociedad 2 - Valencia 0
15Valencia 1 - Mallorca 1
16Deportivo 1 - Valencia 0
17Espanyol 2 - Valencia 3
18Valencia 2 - Málaga 1
19Betis 1 - Valencia 3
DAYRESULT
20R. Madrid 1 - Valencia 0
21Valencia 1 - Valladolid 2
22Las Palmas 0 - Valencia 1
23Valencia 2 - Ath. Bilbao 1
24Alavés 1 - Valencia 2
25Valencia 0 - Celta 0
26Villareal 1 - Valencia 1
27Valencia 2 - Barcelona 0
28Zaragoza 0 - Valencia 1
29Valencia 2 - Sevilla 0
30Rayo 2 - Valencia 1
31Valencia 2 - Osasuna 1
32Tenerife 0 - Valencia 1
33Valencia 4 - R. Sociedad 0
34Mallorca 1 - Valencia 1
35Valencia 1 - Deportivo 0
36Valencia 2 - Espanyol 1
37Málaga 0 - Valencia 2
38Valencia 2 - Betis 0
POSTEAMMPWTLGFGAPTS
1Valencia CF3821125512775
2Deportivo3820810654168
3Real Madrid3819910694466
4Barcelona38181010653764
5Celta38161210644560
6Betis3815149413459
7Alavés3817318414454
8Sevilla38141113514053
9Ath. Bilbao38141113546653
10Málaga38131411444453
11Rayo Vallecano38131015465249
12Valladolid3813916455848
13R. Sociedad3813817485447
14Espanyol3813817475647
15Villarreal38111017465543
16Mallorca38111017405243
17Osasuna38101216364942
18Las Palmas3891316405040
19Tenerife3810820325838
20Zaragoza3891019355437


SPANISH KING'S CUP

Valencia was eliminated despite winning at NoveldaOnce again, the participation of Valencia CF in the King's Cup was a complete failure. The team started its way on the competition with many hopes. But everything ended in the very first round.
On October 10th, 2001, Valencia CF had to play the first round, in a single match, versus Novelda CF, a team from the 3rd group of the Second Division B. But the attitude of the valencian team was not the most adequate for this kind of matches, in which a simple mistake leaves you out.
Valencia made a weak match, but in the end achieved the victory with a goal by Rufete in the 46th minute of the match. Valencia CF had qualified, but something happened and would change evrything. Valencia CF finished the match with four foreign players in the team: Djukic, Serban, Ayala and Aimar. The Spanish Federation decided to eliminate Valencia CF.
The club went though a humilliating situation, and the team's delegate, Juan Cruz Sol, resigned. These were the hardest moments of Benitez as coach of Valencia CF.


UEFA CUP

Valencia CF tried it all, but was finally defeated by Inter in the quarter-finalsThe UEFA Cup didn't wake many expectations in the valencian supporters. The two great seasons performed by the team in the Champions League, and the low quality of the teams competing in the UEFA Cup, left this competition in the background. Nevertheless, the good trajectory of the team in the competition, that took our Valencia to the quarter-finals, made this competition more important month after month.
In the first round Valencia CF had to play versus an unknown Chernomorets Novorossiysk, from Russia. In the first leg match, played on September 19th, 2001, at the Trud Stadium, Valencia played enough in a low quality match to win with a goal by Mista. In the second leg match, played on September 27th, 2001, at Mestalla, Valencia defeated Chernomorets 5-0 and qualified for the following round.
Legia Warszawa, from Poland, was Valencia's rival in the second round. The first leg match, played at Wojska Polskiego Stadium on October 18th, was a battle. The polish players played very hard and Vicente and De Los Santos were injured. The match finished in a tie 1-1. In the second leg match at Mestalla played on November 1st, 2001, Valencia won 6-1.
In the third round Valencia CF had to face a strong rival, Celtic Glasgow. Everybody knew it was not gonna be easy, but it turned into a nightmare. In the first leg match played at Mestalla, on November 22nd, Valencia achieved the victory in the 75th minute, with a goal by Vicente. A low aggregate for the team to face the second leg in a sold-out Celtic Park, on December 6th, 2001. Celtic scored and tied the heat. In the extra-time nothing happened, and so a penalty shoot-out had to be played. Many sad memories came to the mind of the valencian supporters, who couldn't forget the penalty shoot-out of last season in the Champions League final match. But this time, Valencia CF was luckier. Cañizares stopped the last penalty shot by Valgaeren, and Mista scored.
In the 1/8 of final Valencia played versys Servette FC from Switzerland. The team won 3-0 at Mestalla, on February 19th, 2002. The second leg was played at Les Charmilles Stadium, in Geneve, on February 28th. The match finished 2-2.
Valencia CF had qualified for the quarter-finals and the rival was Inter de Milán, a great team coached by Hector Cuper, and with Farinos in the team. On March 14th, 2002, Valencia CF returned to San Siro, where they lost the Champions League last season, to play the first leg. The valencian team played wonderfully, but achieved just a 1-1 versus an ultradefensive Inter.
The second leg match was a nightmare. Inter arrived at Mestalla and Ventola scored an early goal in the 2nd minute. Then, Inter disappeared and just defended the result. Valencia attacked and attacked, made a fabulous match, one of the bests of the season, and had many opportunities to score. But the bad luck, the errors of the forwards and the rival goalkeeper avoided Valencia's goal. The match finished 0-1 and Valencia CF was knocked out of the UEFA Cup.

2000-2001 INDEX 2002-2003

Compiled and written by Manuel Lazcano - Design by Luis Martinez - Based on an original idea by Chema Santiago
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