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Top five things you may not know about top-flight newcomers Deportivo Alavés

Published at :July 1, 2023 at 4:53 AM
Modified at :July 1, 2023 at 4:53 AM
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Considered one of the most historic Spanish clubs, Los Blanquiazules were the first team in history to achieve top-flight promotion and can boast that they have one of the oldest stadiums in Spain.

Deportivo Alavés are back in Spain’s top tier for their 18th season in the highest division in the country, and their seventh at that level in the past eight years. After six consecutive seasons in LaLiga Santander between 2016 and 2022, the Basque side achieved an immediate return after dropping down to LaLiga SmartBank for 2022/23. They did so in dramatic fashion, with Asier Villalibre converting a 129th minute penalty that will forever be remembered by fans of Los Blanquiazules.

This is a club that has been behind many historic moments over the years and here are five things you might not know about the team from Vitoria-Gasteiz, the capital of the Basque Country.

Mendizorrotza is the third-oldest stadium in Spain

Inaugurated back on April 27th 1924, after a bike race and a track meeting, Mendizorrotza is the third-oldest stadium in Spain when taking into account the facilities of professional teams. Its name derives from the Basque word which means ‘mountain peak’ or ‘sharp mount.’ Currently boasting a capacity of 20,000 spectators, the historic stadium was constructed on a former wheat field adjacent to a cycling track that no longer exists and it has experienced glorious nights, including Deportivo Alavés’ home games during their incredible run all the way to the 2000-01 UEFA Cup final.

The first name was Sport Friends Club

The strong connections between the Basque Country and England quickly led to the establishment of football in the region during the early 20th century. In a city where cycling had long been the dominant sport, a group of university students came together to found the Sport Friends Club in Vitoria-Gasteiz, Álava, back in 1920.

One year later, they changed the name to Deportivo Alavés, with the club considering January 23rd 1921 as their official foundation date. In a region where Basque giants Athletic Club and Real Sociedad have historically dominated, Deportivo Alavés add a significant dose of commitment and modesty to the local football landscape. According to the club, their mission is to ensure that fans see themselves reflected in the behaviour, sacrifice, dedication and commitment of the players who don the team’s shirt.

The first club to be promoted to the top tier was Deportivo Alavés

Los Blanquiazules managed a historic feat in 1929-30 when they became the first team to secure promotion to the first division, one year after the league was officially founded. After winning the regional title in Vizcaya and becoming champions of the second tier that season, Deportivo Alavés enjoyed three consecutive campaigns in the top flight. This period marked the first glorious phase for the Basque club. However, their greatest success came in 2001 when they reached the UEFA Cup final and finished as runners-up after losing 5-4 in a thrilling encounter against Liverpool.

The nickname of the Bean-eaters

Deportivo Alavés are known by a few nicknames, such as Los Blanquiazules (The White and Blues, in English) or El Glorioso (The Glorious One, in English), while their fans and players of the team are commonly known as Los Babazorros. This term originates from the Basque language and means The Bean-eaters, which is a nod to the abundance of beans that were once prevalent in the region. The nickname Los Babazorros is considered by fans as a source of pride and identification, with the club’s mascot even being a fox called Zorro Babazorro.

Jorge Valdano’s first European team

Football legend Jorge Valdano, who won the 1986 World Cup, moved from Newell's Old Boys to Deportivo Alavés in 1975 at the age of 19. Featuring in Spanish football’s second tier, Valdano participated in more than 100 league games for Deportivo Alavés before joining Real Zaragoza in 1979. Five years later he signed for Real Madrid, where he became a club legend, winning two LaLiga titles.

However, Deportivo Alavés remains a club that holds a special place in his heart, as he stressed in the club’s documentary ‘2000 Pasos: La historia del centenario del Deportivo Alavés’ (‘2000 Steps: The story of the centenary of Deportivo Alavés’, in English), where he noted that joining the Basque club was “the most important and wisest decision I ever made in my life”. The enduring memories of countless Mendizorroza regulars remain filled with the electrifying runs and remarkable technical prowess displayed by one of the best strikers of his era.

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