Football

Revisiting Deportivo La Coruña's shock La Liga title

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The arrival of the new millennium in 2000 heralded change. Vladimir Putin was voted in as President of Russia, France beat Italy in the Euros, and a small side from Galicia broke up the Barcelona/Madrid duopoly that had dominated La Liga for the previous seventeen seasons, Deportivo La Coruña.

Dépor won the league with a five point advantage over second-placed Barcelona, sparking a successful five year period for the club between 1999 and 2004, culminating in four successive top-three finishes in La Liga and a Champions League semi-final.

An incredible season saw Dépor hammer a Real Madrid side containing Raúl, Fernando Redondo, Roberto Carlos and Steve McManaman 5-2. To put that achievement into perspective, that Real side went on tho win the Champions League that same season, knocking out Manchester United, Bayern Munich and Valencia in the progress.      

Jacques Songo'o, arguably Africa's greatest ever goalkeeper marshalled a defence containing club legend Manuel Pablo and Moroccan stalwart Noureddine Naybet. Enrique Romero, who featured for Spain at the 2002 World Cup, was another crucial player in Dépor's stubborn defence.

A trio of contrasting Brazilians dominated the Dépor midfield. Mauro Silva was the type of midfielder cut out of granite. Defensively dominant, he only managed one goal in his illustrious Dépor career, but his role in the team was crucial. Djalminha was the polar opposite. Capable of executing skills that would still leave supporters staggered in the modern era of Neymar, Ronaldinho and Cristiano Ronaldo, the Brazilian box-of-tricks was a talented but fiery individual, whose temperament robbed him what should have been a long and glorious international career. A third Brazilian, the midfield general Flávio Conceiçao, dictated the play, and earned a major money move to Real Madrid off the back of the 1999/2000 season. The Spanish contingent dominated the wide-areas, consisting of club-captain Fran, the possessor of a glorious left-foot, and Víctor. 

Up front, Roy Makaay, a recent arrival from Tenerife, was the main attraction, netting twenty-two goals in his debut season for Dépor. He was assisted by Argentinian international Turu Flores, and Pauleta, who finish his career as Portugal's top goal scorer. 

After winning the title, Dépor made significant additions to the squad over the following seasons, notably Diego Tristan, Juan Carlos Valeron and Molina. Although they were never able to repeat La Liga glory, the squad finished runner up for the next two seasons, before dropping down to third for the successive two seasons. The run to the Champions League semi-final in 2004 included a stunning 4-0 win over defending champions AC Milan, overturning a 4-1 deficit from the game at the San Siro, before narrowly losing to eventual champions Porto.

Unfortunately for Dépor supporters, the glory days came to an abrupt end after 2004. They bounced around mid-table before losing their place in La Liga in 2011, and again in 2013 after they were promoted back to La Liga. However, having recently been crowned Segunda Divisíon winners, Superdépor will once again grace La Liga next season.

Whilst Dépor supporters will no longer be expecting  title challenges and illustrious Champions League nights at the Riazor, the plucky Galician club will at least be back up where they belong, amongst Spain's elite.       

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Topics:
Spain Football
La Liga
Football
AC Milan
UEFA Champions League
Real Madrid

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This article has been written by a member of the GiveMeSport Writing Academy and does not represent the views of GiveMeSport.com or SportsNewMedia. The views and opinions expressed are solely that of the author credited at the top of this article. GiveMeSport.com and SportsNewMedia do not take any responsibility for the content of its contributors.

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