Ultimate Valencia dream team - Mendieta and Aimar in, Claudio Lopez misses the cut
Founded in 1919, six-time La Liga champions Valencia have been one of the most consistent clubs in Spain for quite some time. Despite some major off-field issues that they suffered in the last couple of decades, Valencia are still one of the most successful clubs in Spain.
Los Che have won six Spanish League titles, eight Copa del Rey titles, one Uefa Cup, one Cup Winners' Cup and two Super Cups among other continental accolades. They also reached two Champions League finals in a row (2000 and 2001).
Their youth academy is one of the best in the world, giving rise to global talents like Gaizka Mendieta, David Silva, Jordi Alba, Isco and many others.
So it's clear that their best XI in history will be a sight to behold!
Let's take a look!
GK: Santiago Canizares
Santiago Canizares arrived at Valencia from Real Madrid in 1998.
The Spanish goalkeeper helped Valencia win the Spanish Cup and Supercup finals in 1999, while also helping them reach consecutive Champions League finals (2000 and 2001).
In the 2001 Champions League final, he saved a penalty from Bayern Munich's Mehmet Scholl in normal time of an eventual penalty shootout defeat.
Canizares won La Liga with Valencia in the 2001-02 and 2002-03 seasons along with the Uefa Cup and Supercup in 2004.
Two other Valencia goalkeepers deserve a special mention here.
First is Ignacio Eizaguirre. The Spaniard joined Los Che in 1940 and went on to make 197 appearances for the club before returning to his former club Real Sociedad in 1950. He won three La Liga titles and two domestic cups at Valencia.
The second is Diego Alves. The Brazilian shot-stopper joined Valencia from Almeria in 2011 and made 146 appearances for Los Che. However, Real Madrid and Barcelona's dominance in Spain meant he couldn't win a single trophy at the club despite delivering tremendous performances over his eight-year spell.
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RCB: Ricardo Arias
It was difficult, almost impossible, to pick the best right centre-back in Valencia's three-man defence, but we had to go with Ricardo Arias.
Arias spent 15 of his 16 professional football years at Valencia after graduating from the club's academy.
Between 1976 to 1992, Arias made 501 appearances for the club, winning three major titles including the 1980 Cup Winners' Cup, the 1978-79 Copa del Rey and the 1980 Super Cup.
In La Liga, he played 377 matches for Los Che.
Two other defenders who were quite legendary for Valencia are Carlos Marchena and Jocelyn Angloma.
Marchena joined the club in 2001 and went on to make 230 appearances for them until 2010, winning two La Liga titles, a Copa del Rey, a Uefa Cup and a Super Cup.
Angloma arrived at the Mestalla towards the end of his career in 1997, making 120 appearances in a five-year spell. In those five years, he won a La Liga title, a Copa del Rey, a Spanish Super Cup and the Uefa Intertoto Cup along with leading Valencia to back-to-back Champions League finals in 1999-2000 and 2000-01.
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CB: Roberto Ayala
The greatest central defender in Valencia's history, Roberto Ayala was known for his incredible aerial ability and tough tackling.
The Argentina legend played for Los Che for seven seasons, earning 187 caps and two La Liga titles along with a Uefa Cup.
Ayala's impressive performances in the 2001 Champions League saw Valencia reach the final before losing to Bayern Munich in a penalty shootout.
If not for Ayala's brilliance, Miguel Tendillo would have been worth a shout. The defender made 208 appearances for the club between 1979 and 1986, winning a Copa del Rey, a Cup Winners' Cup and a Super Cup.
LCB: Amedeo Carboni
After spending most of his career in Italy, defender Amedeo Carboni arrived in Spain with Valencia in 1997.
The Italian went on to stay nine years at the club, inspiring them to win two La Liga titles, a Copa del Rey, a Spanish Super Cup, a Uea Cup, a Super Cup and an Intertoto Cup, before retiring from professional football.
Carboni is to date fondly remembered by the Valencia faithful. He played 245 games for the club and made his last appearance for them at the age of 41.
Paco Camarasa's contribution to Valencia can never be undermined. He remained a one-club man throughout his career, making 266 appearances for the senior team between 1988 to 2000. Camarasa helped Valencia win the Intertoto Cup in 1998 and the Copa del Rey in the 1998-99 season.
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RM: Fernando Gomez Colomer
One of the greatest playmakers of all time, Fernando Gomez Colomer, better known as Fernando, is Valencia's highest-capped player in history.
He made 458 appearances for the club, scoring 142 goals in all competitions between 1983 and 1998.
Colomer helped Valencia win the Segunda Division in the 1986-87 season.
He moved to Wolverhampton Wanderers in 1998 before retiring from professional football at Castellon.
After retiring, Colomer returned to Valencia to work as a club director for some years.
We cannot leave Antonio Puchades out of his conversation. Puchedas made his first senior appearance for Valencia in 1946 and went on to play 256 games for the club. A one-club man throughout his career, Puchades won one La Liga title, a Copa del Rey and the Spanish Super Cup with Valencia.
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RCM: Miguel Angel Angulo
With Angloma nearing the end of his professional career, Valencia brought in then-18-year-old Miguel Angel Angulo in 1996.
Angulo went on to become one of the greatest central midfielders at the club and in Spain, making 313 appearances for Valencia.
During his stint at the club, Angulo won seven trophies, including two La Liga titles, a Copa del Rey, a Spanish Super Cup, a Uefa Cup, a Super Cup and an Intertoto Cup.
The central midfielder stayed at Valencia until 2009.
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CM: David Silva
After rising up the ranks in Valencia's B team, David Silva was handed his senior team debut in 2004.
Over the next six years, Silva established himself as one of the best central midfielders in the world.
With his incredible technical ability and playmaking skills, the Spaniard was key to Valencia's Copa del Rey win in he 2007-08 season.
Silva made 119 appearances for Valencia, scoring 21 goals before leaving for Manchester City and achieving legendary status there.
Two other Valencia superstars deserve a mention here. First is Vicente Rodriguez, who joined the club in 2000 and went on to make 243 appearances for the club over 11 years, winning five trophies.
The second player would be David Albelda, who was a no-nonsense central midfielder. He went on to play 351 games for Valencia between 1995 and 2013, winning two La Liga titles among a host of other trophies.
LCM: Gaizka Mendieta
Gaizka Mendieta is without doubt the greatest midfielder in Valencia's history. The Spaniard made 263 appearances for the club, scoring 48 goals between 1993 and 2001.
He won three trophies there and was the biggest reason behind Valencia reaching back-to-back Champions League finals in 1999-2000 and 2000-01.
In 2001, Mendieta was subject to a €48 million transfer to Lazio in Italy, becoming the sixth most expensive transfer in football history at that time.
It almost feels bad not to include Jose Claramunt as a first choice, but we can't do much considering what Mendieta did in his time at Valencia.
Claramunt joined Valencia in 1966 and went on to make 294 appearances for the club, scoring 54 goals and winning one La Liga title in the 1970-71 season.
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LM: Pablo Aimar
Not many can argue with Pablo Aimar's position in Valencia's dream team!
The Argentine cult hero arrived from River Plate in 2001 and immediately took the Spanish league by storm.
Aimar made 162 appearances for Valencia, scoring 27 goals and helping them win two La Liga titles, a Uefa Cup, a Super Cup and leading them on an unforgettable journey to the final of the 2000-01 Champions League.
Not many can compete with Aimar's legacy at Valencia except, maybe, Vicente Rodriguez.
The Spanish winger made 340 competitive appearances for Valencia between 2000 and 2011, winning two La Liga titles and a Uefa Cup among his five major trophies at the club.
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CF: Mario Kempes
One of the greatest strikers of all time, Mario Kempes spent the majority of his career at Valencia over two separate stints in Spain.
He arrived from Argentina club Rosario Central in 1976 and went on to make 142 appearances for Valencia until 1981, scoring 95 goals in his first stint at the club.
Kempes went back to Argentina with River Plate for the 1981-82 season before returning to Valencia again in 1982. He stayed at the club for two years in his second stint, scoring 21 goals in 42 games, before joining Hercules in 1984.
The 1978 World Cup winner with Argentina enjoyed his most successful club career at Valencia, winning a Copa del Rey in 1978-79, a Cup Winners' Cup in 1979-80 and the Super Cup in 1980.
While Kempes cannot be replaced in this list, any Valencia dream team will be incomplete without the mention of Waldo. The Brazilian striker arrived in Spain from Fluminense in 1961 and went on to score an impressive 115 goals in 216 appearances for Valencia, with a career-best 24 league goals in the 1966–67 campaign. He won three trophies at the club before leaving for Hercules in 1970.
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CF: David Villa
The greatest striker in Valencia history, David Villa arrived at the Mestalla from Real Zaragoza in 2005 and began his journey to footballing greatness.
It was during his stint at Valencia that Villa established himself as one of the most deadly strikers in the world, scoring 108 goals in just 166 appearances between 2005 and 2010 before joining Barcelona.
At his peak, Villa was truly a magician on the pitch.
He also won the Euros and World Cup with Spain in 2008 and 2010, respectively, while also claiming the Silver Shoe at the 2010 World Cup.
Two other Valencia legends match up with Villa in this position. First is Edmundo Suarez. Suarez is the highest goalscorer in Valencia's history with 238 goals in all competitions at a ratio of 0.92 goals. Suarez helped Valencia win three La Liga titles and two Copa del Rey crowns along with a Spanish Super Cup.
The second Valencia great is Claudio Lopez. Lopez arrived at Valencia in 1996 and in his four-year stint at the club, he averaged 20 goals each season between 1997–98 and 1999–2000. That included being the highest goalscorer in the 1998–99 season, scoring 30 occasions across competitions to become the third-highest goalscorer in La Liga behind Raul and Rivaldo. Lopez scored 47 goals in 126 appearances for Valencia, winning three trophies. The Argentine formed an incredible partnership with Romanian Adrian Ilie and played alongside stars such as Angloma, Canizares and Mendieta, who would later in his career be his teammate at Lazio as well.