Spanish football: Levante UD
Do you have a penchant for Spanish football? So does Matthew Hirtes who has been following the beautiful game on mainland Spain and its islands at first hand after moving to Iberia back in 2004. In his latest guide, he provides an overview of Valencia’s Levante UD.
Levante UD….in 90 seconds
Working-class heroes Levante have always been associated with Valencia’s bustling, rough and ready port area: taking their name from the city beach which is now more commonly known as Las Arenas. But when their Algirós stadium was destroyed during the Spanish Civil War in 1939, they merged with crosstown rivals Gímnastico who had lost most of their players to the conflict but retained a ground in the Estadio de Vallejo. These days, Levante play their home games at the 26,354-capacity Ciutat de València.
Being in the shadow of main city club Valencia CF, Levante have had to rely on producing their own talent. However, they’ve had the odd big name sport their colours. Usually on their way up as they go on to progress to playing at a more prestigious club, such as Costa Rica goalkeeper Keylor Navas now plying his trade at Real Madrid or those winding down their career like the legendary flying Dutchman Johann Cruyff.
Spain international defender Juanfran, comfortable playing as a left back or in the centre of defence, started and ended his career at Ciutat de València. There were spells playing with the likes of Celta Vigo and Real Zaragoza in between, mind. His 2012 return helped his hometown club to a return to the Primera Liga after a two-season absence and a couple of years later Juanfran would score Levante’s first-ever goal in European competition, in a 1-0 home win over Sweden’s Helsinborg.
A team-mate of Juanfran’s at Levante was Vicente Iborra who made his first-team debut aged 20 in January 2008 in a Copa del Rey tie away to Getafe. Since switching to Leicester City after some seasons with Sevilla, Premiership fans have why Iborra was such a firm favourite with Levante supporters. Namely, his full-bloodied commitment as a physical defensive midfielder with a commanding aerial presence.
Levante UD Form Guide
Pre-merger, Levante FC took 19 years to win their first-ever competition: the 1928 Valencian Championship. They didn’t receive a trophy for that one but they were able to start to populate the club cabinet with the 1937 Copa de España Libre with Levante defeating Valencia 1-0 in the final. They’ve also won the Segunda División twice, the Segunda División B five times, and the Tercera División on seven occasions over the course of their history.
Club Shop Essential Purchase
You’re never too young to start supporting Levante as you can see from the pairs of cute bootees in the club colours of blue and red.
From the outside and even as you enter, Carrer d’Esteban Dolz del Castellar’s Restaurante Al Mar looks like your average Spanish football bar complete with club scarf pinned to the wall but surprisingly you can chow down on some pre- or post-match sushi here. Bar Torre Levante, on Carrer Santiago Rusiñol meanwhile is decidely more Iberian in the fayre it offers. As it is in neighbouring Bar Avenida which classically marries tapas with draught Cruzcampo.
Where the bigger clubs have waiting lists for season tickets, Levante UD members number less than half of the 25,000ish capacity at the Ciutat de València. But there is a 21st-century appreciation of new technology with the Granota FanClub launching an APP Granota. This is available on Android and iOS.
Damage to Your Wallet
Levante UD is one of the more affordable clubs to watch in Spain, with adult season tickets for the 2017-18 season available for as little as 95€. A bargain for 18 games: you do the maths. You can pick up an adult matchday ticket for as little as 15€ on the day, although you should buy in advance/online for games against the likes of Barcelona and Real Madrid in order to avoid disappointment.
Matthew Hirtes, our resident broadsheet journalist, moved to Las Palmas de Gran Canaria back in 2004. He's travelled extensively through Spain, covering it for such publications as Telegraph Travel, Metro, and The Independent. The author of Going Local in Gran Canaria: How To Turn a Holiday Destination into a Home, Matthew truly is a resident expert.