Spanish football: Villarreal CF
In love with Spanish football? Welcome to the world of our very own fútbol expert Matthew Hirtes then. This week, his tour of the country’s leading clubs takes him to Villarreal CF.
The Royal City of Villarreal, the second largest of the Valencia province of Castellón, lies on the Augustan Way. It was given patronage by Aragon’s Chaime lo Conqueridor because of its strategic location during the 13th-Century Reconquest. These days, it’s more famous for its ceramics industry and Villarreal CF play their home games at the 25,000-capacity Estadio de la Ceramica featuring a pottery-inspired facade.
As a teenager growing up in Brazil, Marcos Senna lived for the weekend and not because he enjoyed going out; but because he played for four different teams and you’d find him on a pitch am/pm Saturday and Sunday. All that practice made him the perfect signing for Villarreal, inspiring the Yellow Submarine as a tenacious holding midfielder and all-action captain to an upwards trajectory that included reaching the UEFA Champions League semi finals in 2005-06 and finishing runners up to Real Madrid in La Liga the following season. A Spain international, Senna has returned to the Estadio de la Ceramica to play for Villarreal veterans.
Before there was Messi, there was Juan Román Riquelme. Signed by Barcelona in November 2002, the playmaker rarely played however and was soon farmed out on loan to Villarreal who he signed for on a permanent basis in the summer of 2005. The Argentina international was very much a number 10 for club and country, just like his hero Diego Maradona.
American by birth and Italian thanks to his parents which resulted in him making 30 appearances for the Azzuri, speedy striker and the Yellow Submarine’s all-time record goalscorer, Giuseppe Rossi was a young prodigy; moving to Parma to play for their youth team aged 12 and then signing for Manchester United as a 17-year-old in 2004. Three years later, Villarreal paid Man U €10 million for his services. And Rossi quickly started to pay them back, netting on his debut against local rivals Valencia.
Villarreal CF Form Guide
As a club, Villarreal date back to 1923 and since then they’ve only ever won one league title: the Spanish Third Division, La Tercera, in 1969-70. They have, however, finished as runners up on no fewer than four occasions (once in La Liga, the same in Segunda A, and twice in Segunda B). Villarreal also picked up the UEFA Intertoto Cup in successive seasons during the early Noughties.
Club Shop Essential Purchase
Pre teens will get a kick out of wearing T-shirts adorned with caricatures of some of the Yellow Submarine’s current heroes, including exciting young right winger Samu Castillejo.
Next to the stadium, in Carrer Blasco Ibáñez, Villanueva’s a great bar to mingle with local football fans. Elsewhere, despite the name, Carrer Ermita’s Cervecería Los Maños is as much a place to eat at as drink in. As is Bocateria Padel Vila-real on the same street which specializes in filled rolls.
Fans of Villareal are known as groguets (Yellows). Big in Asia, the club have around 800,000 followers on China’s Facebook/Twitter hybrid: Weibo. A club that’s very much rooted in the community, Villarreal offer the chance for fans as young as one to be photographed with the team before home games.
Damage to Your Wallet
Purchase Villareal tickets online through Entradas.com. You can also buy them in person at Plaça Major’s Villarreal CF Official Shop which opens for advance sales from 10:00am to 1:45pm and 5.00pm to 8:00pm Monday to Saturday. On matchdays, Carrer Blasco Ibáñez’s ticket office starts selling 90 minutes before kick-off. Expect to shell out between 15€ and 40€ to get into the stadium.
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.