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Best Valencia XI of All Time

Wed 10 November 2021 | 8:30

Join us as we take a look at some of the greatest Valencia players of all time to pick the best Valencia XI of all time:

Although not one of Spain’s famous Big Three (Real Madrid, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid), Valencia is certainly one of the best clubs that has played in La Liga. In fact, there were times, especially in the 1990s and early 2000s where Valencia was in fact more powerful than even Barcelona and Atletico Madrid but financial troubles, as well as the club’s selling policy which saw them sell many of their talented youngsters only for them to become the best players in the world (i.e. David Silva and David Villa), has seen the club fall in the wayside in the past decade or so.

Founded in 1919 as Valencia Futbol Club in a region by the same name and commonly known as the Los murciélagos or the Bats, Valencia is the 4th most popular and successful club in Spain having won six La Liga titles, eight Copa del Rey titles as well as a host of European trophies including a UEFA Cup. the club also reached the Champions League final twice consecutively in 2000 and 2001 but lost to Real Madrid and Bayern on each occasion. Having first established themselves as a powerhouse during the 1940s, Valencia has had a host of great players represent the club, many of which came from their own academy. Players that we’ll take a closer look at today to find out who are the

best Valencia XI of all time

:

Valencia’s Greatest All-Time Team

Although many of Spain’s golden generation from the past decade or so came from Valencia, the club’s tendency to produce world-class players goes back to their beginnings. So join us to find out who is on our Valencia greatest all-time team:

Goalkeeper: Santiago Canizares

We start off with the infamous Santiago Canizares who joined Valencia from Real Madrid in 1998, and replaced Andoni Zubizarreta, one of Valencia legends and went on to represent the club for the following 10 seasons. A product of Real Madrid’s youth academy, Canizares failed to nail down a starting position at the club in spite of being loaned out a number of times but in 1998, Canizares decided to leave the European Champions to join the Bats, helping the club experience perhaps the best period of its history.

Known for his incredible reflexes as well as his attitude on the pitch, Canizares’ bleached-out hair made him stand out from his peers. But his goalkeeping talents were what distinguished him from so many of his rivals which eventually led him to represent Spain in 3 World Cup and 3 European Championship tournaments. Having already won 2 La Liga titles as well as a Champions League in Real Madrid, Canizares’ experience as well as great players like David Ayala and David Albelda who played in front of him led him to collect 4 Ricardo Zamorra trophies, a trophy which only 3 other goalkeepers have won more of!

Santiago Canizares also helped Valencia experience a renaissance, leaving the club to win 2 La Liga titles, a Copa del Rey, a UEFA Cup and an Intertoto Cup, and reaching two Champions League finals, both of which Valencia sadly lost. With 418 appearances in total over the course of his decade-long stay at the club, Santiago Canizares has the 5th most appearances for Valencia making him a must inclusion in our best Valencia XI of all time. 

Right Back: Jocelyn Angloma

Jocelyn Angloma is our choice of right-back for the

best Valencia XI of all time

. The French/Guadeloupian full-back was part of the famous

Marseille

team of the early 1990s, having established himself by playing for Rennes, Lille and PSG before joining Marseille in 1991. He then won the Champions League with Marseille, making them the only French club to do so, before departing the club in 1994 to seek his fortunes at Serie in

Torino

and later at

Inter Milan

.

By the time Jocelyn Angloma joined Valencia in 1997, he was already 32 years old and a seasoned player, having won league titles and European titles as well as participating in 2 European Championships with France (1992 and 1996). He instantly became a hit at Valencia and nailed a starting position, helping Valencia to a Copa del Rey trophy in his second season at the club.

An Intertoto cup, a La Liga title and two Champions League final appearances followed all the while Jocelyn was one of the pillars of that Valencia squad. one of Valencia best players of all time, Jocelyn Angloma represented the club 120 times in La Liga, scoring 5 goals. he retired from football in 2002 while still at Valencia but came out of retirement a few years later to play for a Guadoulopian side as well as its national team to help them qualify for the 2007 Caribbean Nations Cup, which they did. He was also appointed as their manager in 2017, a role he still holds to this day.

Left Back: Amedeo Carboni 

It’s quite rare for Italian players to leave their homeland to find success abroad, especially in the 1990s and early 2000s where Serie A reigned supreme in Europe, but left-back Amadeo Carboni, who was one of the 

Valencia legends,

 is one of those rare cases. Born and raised in Arezzo, Carboni started his professional career with the local team Arezzo before moving on to Empoli, Parma and

Sampdoria

but it was at

AS Roma

(with whom he stayed for 7 seasons) where he established himself as one of the best fullbacks in Italy.

Having the misfortune of playing in the same position and same period that the legendary Paolo Maldini played in, Amadeo Carboni was constantly being overlooked in Italy but in 1997, he decided to join Valencia, who were at the time on the rise and went on to help the Bats experience a golden age. A solid full-back who was great at defending but could also hold his own while going forward, Carboni’s almost never-ending stamina allowed him to form a solid backline for Valencia, which was a big part of their success in the following seasons.

Having represented Valencia over the course of 9 seasons and 245 La Liga matches, Amadeo Carboni helped the club win 2 La Liga titles, a Copa del Rey, a UEFA Cup and an Intertoto Cup as well as helping the club reach two Champions League finals both of which they lost. A legend of the club, Amadeo Carboni is undoubtedly most people’s choice for the left-back role in any best Valencia XI of all time, as is the case with our list too!

Center Back: Roberto Ayala

Next, we come to the legendary Roberto Ayala who is not only one of Valencia best players of all time but also one of the finest Argentinians to ever grace a football pitch. Having started his career in his native Argentina, Ayala soon attracted attention from European clubs by playing for Ferro Carril Oeste and 

River Plate

 which then prompted Parma to bring him to Serie A where he played for Napoli and AC Milan for 5 seasons before joining Valencia at the turn of the millennium.

Despite his relatively small stature as a central defender (1.77m), Ayala soon established himself as one of the finest defenders in Europe in his first season with the Los Che. His ferocity at closing down attackers as well as his exceptional leadership qualities made him the perfect man to lead Valencia’s backline, which he did perfectly as they reached the Champions League final in his first season at the club and he was named as the Best Defender of the Year by UEFA.

He then helped Valencia win the La Liga in the following season and he was instrumental in Valencia’s 2003-04 season La Liga and UEFA Cup double as the Levantinos experienced one of their best seasons in recent memory. Although he was considered to be a talented defender when he played in Serie A, his time at Valencia, made Roberto Ayala one of the best defenders of his era and one of 

Valencia star players

.

Having represented Valencia in 253 matches in which he scored 12 goals, Ayala departed the club in 2007 to join Real Zaragoza and then Racing in Argentina where he retired from football in 2010. One of the best Argentinian players ever, Ayala captained his country a record 63 times and with 115 caps holds the 4th most caps in Argentina’s history. His 2 La Liga titles and a UEFA trophy with Valencia as well as his appearance in the 2006 World Cup team of the tournament alongside his numerous other honors make him the perfect candidate for our best Valencia XI of all time.

Center Back: Ricardo Arias

The fiercely loyal Ricardo Arias is the last man in the defense for our

Valencia greatest all-time team

. One of Valencia legends, Ricardo Arias spent 15 out of the 16 seasons of his professional career at Valencia. A native of Valencia community, Ricardo Arias came through the ranks of Valencia’s youth academy to make his professional debut for the Los Che in 1976. He then went on to cement his place in the first team as a sweeper and pretty soon helped the club win the Copa del Rey in the 1978-79 season.

The first half of Arias’ career at Valencia was exceptionally well after he helped the club win the aforementioned Copa del Rey and then lead them to a European Cup Winners’ Cup final, where he converted his penalty in shoot-outs and made Valencia win the title.

Valencia

then subsequently won the UEFA Supercup against European Champions, Nottingham Forest. But heartbreak was to follow as the club’s fortunes deteriorated fast and they were relegated to the Segunda Division in 1986. However, after only a season at Segunda Division, Arias helped them win the title to come back to La Liga immediately.

After his role was reduced at the club in his final seasons, Ricardo Arias left Valencia after 15 seasons in 1992 having played 518 competitive matches for the club which is a record only bested by Fernando Gomez (554) at the club. one of the most loyal and hard-working Valencia players of all time, Ricardo Arias joins Roberto Ayala at the heart of the defense for our best Valencia XI of all time.

Central Midfielder: Ruben Baraja

Any great team that has achieved something spectacular in football was always driven by a general in midfield, someone who had a bit of everything in him and could help both the defense and the attack as well as lead where he was needed and for Valencia, especially at the beginning of the 2000s, that someone was Ruben Baraja. Born and raised in Valladolid, Ruben Baraja was a late bloomer when it came to football since the midfield maestro was still playing with the reserve sides until he was almost 25, but a good season at

Atletico Madrid

in 1999, And Atletico’s subsequent relegation allowed Baraja to join Valencia, where his career truly kicked off.

A perfect image of a complete midfielder, Ruben Baraja was able to dictate the tempo of the game with his brilliant pass delivery and his partnership with the amazing David Albelda made Valencia pretty solid defensively. But it was in going forward that Baraja truly shone as he usually orchestrated Valencia’s attack alongside the likes of Pablo Aimar. Baraja also had a knack for scoring goals which came in handy from time to time, especially during the 2003-04 season when Valencia won the double of UEFA Cup and La Liga with Baraja scoring 12 goals throughout all competitions.

Albelda joined Valencia in 2000 and stayed with the club for a decade before retiring in 2010. In his first season, he helped the club reach the Champions League final and was one of Valencia star players. He then was their top scorer as they won the league in 2001, a feat they repeated in 2004 with Baraja once again contributing with his leadership and goals. having scored 57 times in his 364 appearances for Valencia, Ruben Baraja retired from playing football in 2010 and went directly to coaching.

Central Midfielder: David Albelda

We talked a lot about the Valencia team that won so many trophies at the beginning of the 21st century and now it’s time to talk about the man that led Valencia on the field for much of that glorious era and that man is David Albelda. The former Valencia skipper spent the entirety of his career as a Valencia player except for two seasons on loan at Villarreal. He rejoined the Bats in 1999 and shortly after (in 2001) following the departure of then-captain

Gaizka Mendieta

was appointed as the club’s captain while he was barely 24 years old.

A calm and composed midfielder, David Albelda worked in tandem with Ruben Baraja for much of his career and the two solidified Valencia’s already great backline but also added creativity and threat going forward. While Baraja was the one who always ventured forward, Albelda was the one that screened the midfield for any threats, making one of the best midfield duos in La Liga and Europe at the time.

 He had a similar role for Spain too as he represented La Rojas in 2 World Cups (2002 and 2006) as well as Euro 2004. However, because of a spat with Valencia’s manager in 2008 (Ronald Koeman), he was ultimately not included in Spain’s 2008 Euro squad which went on to win the tournament. Having made his debut for Valencia’s reserves in 1995, David Albelda went on to represent Valencia until the end of his career in 2013. He appeared in 485 matches and scored a total of 9 goals, making him the player with the 3rd most appearances for the club.

David Albelda helped Valencia win 2 La Liga titles, a UEFA Cup and a UEFA Supercup as well as helping them reach two Champions League finals. His outstanding leadership qualities which made already established leaders and Valencia star players like Ayala and Baraja follow him on the pitch made him the perfect man to lead the club in that era which makes him possibly the best captain that the club had ever seen and one of the best Valencia XI of all time.

Attacking Midfielder: Fernando Gomez Colomer

For the role of the playmaker, we have one of

Valencia best players of all time

, Fernando Gomez Colomer or better known as Fernando, who is also the club’s record appearance holder as well as their 4th best top goal scorer of all time. Fernando who was a product of Valencia’s own youth academy represented the club between 1983 and 1998, experiencing incredible highs and lows with his boyhood club before joining Wolverhampton and Castellon each for a season and retiring in 2000.

Nicknamed the Professor because of his family’s strong background in academics, Fernando was an attacking midfielder who also operated from the flanks from time to time. Fernando was part of the Valencia team that got relegated in 1986 but his knack for scoring goals as well as creating them, helped the club come immediately back up and a few years later he was twice named La Liga’s best player in 1988 and 1989.

Fernando spent 15 seasons at Valencia, representing the club in a record 554 matches in which he scored 143 times, making him Valencia’s 4th top goal scorer of all time. He failed to win any major trophies with the club, with the only trophy he won being the Segunda Division in 1987. But because of his loyalty to the club as he stuck with them through thick and thin, he is a beloved figure among the fans, making his appearance in our Valencia greatest all-time team a no-brainer.

Right Winger: Mario Kempes

Considered by many to be one of the greatest players of all time, Mario Kempes is undoubtedly one of the best players to ever put on the Los Che shirt, if not the best. Before there ever was a Maradona or a Lionel Messi, Argentina had the incredible Mario Kempes who led them to their first World Cup trophy in 1978 (while also being a Valencia player at the time), picking up every individual award on his way. His two spells at Valencia during the 1970s and 1980s were immensely successful as the Argentine target man picked up the Pichichi award twice.

While Kempes mainly operated as a center forward, he liked to drop deep and receive the ball outside the box, which made him a difficult player to defend against as most center forwards back then operated mainly in the box. His pace, technique and shooting ability made Kempes a lethal striker which could score from anywhere in the attacking third.

This resulted in him winning the Pichichi award in his first season with Valencia (1976-77) and in the following season which then led to his amazing performances at the 1978 World Cup where he won the Golden Boot, Golden Ball and was later also rewarded the

Ballon d’Or

of that same year, although not officially since at the time only European players could win the award.

With Valencia Kempes won the European Cup Winners Cup as well as the Copa del Rey, having represented the club in 246 between 1976 and 1981 and once again between 1982 and 1984. He is also Valencia’s third top goal scorer with 146 goals making him a perfect candidate for our best Valencia XI of all time. 

Left Winger: David Villa

From an Argentine legend and World Cup winner to a Spanish one, David Villa, who was one of the pillars of Spain’s success and their golden generation between 2008 and 2012. A Valencia and Barcelona legend, David Villa was the perfect striker, able to create goals as well as he scored them, making him one of the best attackers of his era. He is also Spain’s top goal scorer of all time, having scored 59 times for La Roja in 98 matches.

An ambidextrous attacker who despite his short stature, could operate as either a target man or could also drop deep to support other strikers, David Villa excelled at every skill an attacker should possess, his dribbling, technique and pace rivaled the best of his era and yet his vision in creating chances for his teammates as well as his proficiency at set-pieces made him prolific as both a goal scorer and a playmaker, leading him to constantly be amongst the best of both in La Liga during his time at Valencia.

While Villa managed to only win a Copa del Rey in his time at Valencia, his 129 goals and many assists in 225 matches make him one of their best players and a necessary inclusion to our best Valencia XI of all time. Keep in mind that while he won many titles at Barcelona, the peak of his career, when he also won a European Championship and World Cup, was during his time with Valencia (2005-2010). It would take an entire article to name all the individual awards that David Villa has received during his incredible career which is exactly why he is considered a club legend at Valencia.

Striker: Edmundo Suárez

Last but certainly not least is a Valencia player not from the most recent decades but a player who helped Valencia first establish themselves amongst the Spanish Giants in the 1940s and someone who is also Valencia’s top goal scorer of all time, Edmundo Suarez. a native of Bosque country, Mundo moved to Valencia post-Spanish Civil war in 1939 and represented the club until 1950 before retiring from football a year later.

During the 11 seasons, he represented Valencia, Edmundo Suarez, alongside players like Asensi and Gorostiza led Valencia to 3 La Liga titles as well as twice finishing as runners-up. Suarez’s goals also allowed Valencia to pick up 2 Copa del Rey titles in 1941 and 1949. Edmundo’s prolific rate of scoring led him to score a whopping 238 goals in 259 matches he played for Valencia, making him their top goalscorer as well as La Liga’s 10th best goal scorer and Copa del Rey’s 6th best goal scorer of all time.

A darling among Valencia fans, Edmundo Suarez had possibly the most important role in bringing in Valencia’s first 5 major trophies during the 1940s which then changed the club’s trajectory and made them one of the biggest clubs in Spain. He was also appointed as Valencia’s manager years later and led them to a Copa del Rey trophy in 1967, making him one of the most important figures in the club’s history and a worthy player to conclude our

best Valencia XI of all time

with!

 

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