Remembering Deportivo La Coruna’s greatest side

Once a Spanish giant, now a Segunda Division side – we remember the best period of Deportivo La Coruna’s history.

Deportivo La Coruna has won the Spanish La Liga only once in the club’s history, back in 2000.

The end of the 90s and the early 2000s was the best period La Coruna remembers, as the team also won the Copa del Rey twice – in 1995 and 2002 and played regular Champions League football, reaching the semi-finals in 2004.

We would like to remember the team that was among the best in Spain and Europe at the start of the new Millenium, but let’s start from the very beginning.

Deportivo had always been a provincial club in Spain. They had spent far more time in the second tier than the first since a period of success in the late 1940s and 1950s and were relegated as low as the third division in 1980. By 1990, Depor had been outside La Liga for 17 years. There was little sign of progress amidst financial difficulties and mediocre on-field returns.

The signing of the Brazilian legendary striker Bebeto was the start of Deportivo’s iconic run back in 1992/93 when they finished third in La Liga two seasons after promotion and qualified for Europe for the first time in the club’s history.

The following season, Arsenio Iglesias’ side missed out on the La Liga title on the final day thanks to a missed penalty against Valencia, and they finished second again in 1994/95.

In 1996/97 Deportivo signed another player from Brazil – Rivaldo. The club finished on the third place in La Liga, but they couldn’t enjoy the Brazilian for a long time, as he moved to Barcelona the next season.

Their next season was a disappointment and in 1998 Javier Irureta was appointed as club’s new manager. It was the start of the club’s most iconic period.

In his first season, they finished sixth on the table, but the 1999/2000 season was the one to be always remembered by Deportivo La Coruna fans.

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Between 1984 and 1999, Spain’s big two sides – Barcelona and Real Madrid had won 14 of 15 league titles and Atletico were the one exception… but then, along came Deportivo.

Led by the Dutch striker Roy Makaay, who scored 22 La Liga goals in the season, Javier Irureta’s side finally managed to bring to La Liga title to Riazor.

La Coruna became champions of Spain for the first time in club’s history, despite having lost 11 games in the league and winning only five of their 19 away games.

That title victory was undoubtedly Depor’s greatest achievement, but this was not an outlier season. Irureta’s team finished in the top three in each of the next four seasons, but their best form was saved for the Champions League.

They reached the quarter-finals in 2001 and 2002, being stopped by Premier League sides Leeds and Manchester United.

The 2003/04 season was the best European one in Deportivo’s history and the only thing that stood between La Coruna and the Champions League final was Pierluigi Collina’s whistle and a Derlei penalty in a 1-0 aggregate defeat to Porto.

Juan Carlos Valeron was the leader of the team that reached the semi-finals in the Champions League, alongside with club’s top scorer Diego Tristan. They lost the first leg of the quarter-finals 4-1 to AC Milan, but responded with one of the all-time best comebacks in Europe, winning the second leg 4-0.

Since they reached the very top, Deportivo started falling slowly. They got relegated in 2011, got back in La Liga, and then got relegated again.

Deportivo La Coruna is on the third position in Segunda Division, only two points behind leaders Albacete. We hope to see them back in top-flight Spanish football as soon as possible.

 

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