|Full name||Levante Unión Deportiva, S.A.D.|
|Nickname(s)||Granotes (The frogs)|
|Ground||Ciutat de València, Valencia,
|2012–13||La Liga, 11th|
|Website||Club home page|
Levante Unión Deportiva, S.A.D. (Spanish: [leˈβante uˈnjon deporˈtiβa], Valencian: Llevant Unió Esportiva [ʎeˈvant uniˈo espoɾˈtiva]) is a Spanish football club based in Valencia, in the namesake community.
Levante UD was originally founded in 1909 as Levante Fútbol Club, taking their name from the "Levante" beach in La Malvarrosa, and was one of the pioneering football clubs in Valencia. Local rivals Valencia CF were not formed until 1919; however, another club, Cabanyal FC, had been playing in the city since 1903.
The team's earliest games were played at La Platjeta, near the docks on a plot of land owned by a perfume entrepreneur. Its next ground was also near the port area, and the club gradually began to become associated with the working class. In 1919 the side played Valencia for the first time, losing 0–1 – the game marked the inauguration of the recently formed new ground at Algirós; in 1928 Levante FC won their first trophy, the Valencian Championship.
1909 also saw the birth of Gimnástico Fútbol Club, who originally played at Patronato de la Juventud Obrera, being then named Universitario Fútbol Club. By 1920, the team had become Real Gimnástico Club de Fútbol, after being granted royal patronage by Alfonso XIII. In 1920 Gimnástico also reached the final of the Campeonato de Valencia, but the game was never played; in 1930, with the emergence of the Second Spanish Republic, they dropped the Real from their name.
In 1934–35 both Levante and Gimnástico made their debut in the second division, when the league was expanded from ten teams to twenty-four. In 1935 the former won the Campeonato Levante-Sur, a competition that featured teams from Valencia, Murcia and Andalusia, and subsequently reached the semi-finals of the Spanish Cup, consecutively beating Valencia and FC Barcelona before losing to eventual runners-up CE Sabadell FC.
Copa de la España Libre
During the Spanish Civil War Levante and Gimnástico played in the Mediterranean League, finishing fifth and sixth respectively – teams from this league also competed in the Copa de la España Libre (Free Spain Cup). It was originally intended that the top four teams from the league would enter the cup, but Barcelona opted to tour Mexico and the United States and, as a result, Levante took its place.
The first round of the competition was a mini-league with the top two teams, Levante and Valencia, qualifying for the final. On 18 July 1937, Levante defeated their city rivals 1–0 at the Montjuïc.
During the civil war Levante's ground was destroyed, but the club's squad remained intact. In contrast Gimnástico had a ground, Estadio de Vallejo, but had lost most of their players.
As a result, the two clubs merged in 1939 to become Unión Deportiva Levante-Gimnástico, changing two years later to Levante Unión Deportiva, which club colours in the 2000s also dating from this era (the blaugrana home colours were originally those of Gimnástico, whilst the black and white away kit, was also used by Levante FC in the beginning).
Levante had to wait until the 1960s to make their La Liga debut. In 1963 the club finished runner-up in Group 2 of the second division, beating Deportivo de La Coruña 4–2 on aggregate in the promotion play-offs. During the first top flight season it managed to win both games against Valencia, managing a 5–1 home win against Barcelona in the 1964–65 campaign but being relegated nonetheless after losing in the playoffs against CD Málaga, and spent most of the following two decades in the second and third divisions – Segunda División B would not be created until 1977; in the early 1980s, Dutch superstar Johan Cruyff played half a season for the club, retiring three years later.
After winning 2003–04's second division Levante returned to the top level, but survived only one season. Finishing third in 2005–06 it returned for two additional campaigns, the decisive match in the 2006–07 season being a 4–2 home win against Valencia courtesy of Riga Mustapha (two goals), Salva and Laurent Courtois.
Levante's financial status worsened, however, and there were reports that the players had only received approximately one fifth of their contractual payments – news reports stated that the club had incurred a debt of over €18 million in payments due their players. The team plummeted down the standings, and it was confirmed that they would be playing in the second division in 2008–09, with several matches to go; the players protested at their lack of payments at one point, refusing to move for several seconds after the opening whistle against Deportivo, and later announcing that they would issue a job action during the season-ending game at Real Madrid.
The action was resolved when league officials announced that a benefit game would be played between Levante team members, and a team made up of players from the first division, with all benefits going to pay the wages due to the players.
On 13 June 2010 Levante returned to the first division, after a 3–1 home win against already relegated CD Castellón. It lost in the final round 0–4 at Real Betis, but its opponents only managed to finish with the same points as fourth.
Under the manager who led the team back to the top flight, Luis García Plaza, Levante finally retained its division status in the 2010–11 season. During one point of the league's second round of matches it was the third team with most points, only behind Barcelona and Real Madrid and losing just once in 12 games, precisely against the latter team.
On 26 October 2011, during round nine of the season, Levante defeated Real Sociedad 3–2 to move top of the table on 23 points. It was the first time in the club's history it reached the highest ranking in the top division – in the process, they recorded seven straight wins after drawing the first two games; the club eventually finished in sixth position after defeating Athletic Bilbao 3–0 at home in the last match, thus qualifying for the UEFA Europa League for the first time in its history.
|2011–12||1D||6||38||16||7||15||54||50||55||Quarter Finals||Qualified to UEFA Europa League|
|2012–13||UEFA Europa League||Play-off round||Motherwell||1–0||2–0||3–0|
|Round of 32||Olympiacos||3–0||1–0||4–0|
|Round of 16||Rubin Kazan||0–0||0–2||0–2|
Season to season
- As Levante UD
Levante FC + Gimnástico FC: Levante UD
- 8 seasons in La Liga
- 35 seasons in Segunda División
- 12 seasons in Segunda División B
- 16 seasons in Tercera División
- 1 season in Categorías Regionales
As of 18 June 2013
Note: Flags indicate national team as has been defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.
- Copa de la España Libre: 1937
- Segunda División: 2003–04
- Segunda División B: 1988–89, 1995–96, 1998–99
- Tercera División: 1943–44, 1972–73
- Campeonato Levante-Sur: 1934–35
- Campeonato de Valencia: 1927–28
- Trofeo Ciudad de Valencia: 1996
Estadi Ciutat de Valencia was opened on 9 September 1969, with capacity for 25,354 spectators. Dimensions 107x69 meters.
Notable former players
see also Category:Levante UD footballers
- Bernd Schuster
- Gianni De Biasi
- Josep Escolà
- Juan Ramón López Caro
- Juan Ignacio Martínez
- Enrique Orizaola
- Manuel Preciado
- Juande Ramos
- Abel Resino
see also Category:Levante UD managers
- Spain – List of Champions of Levante, Valencia and Murcia; at RSSSF
- Spain – Copa de España Libre 1937; at RSSSF
- Levante are finally dethroned as La Liga becomes a more boring place; The Guardian, 31 October 2011
- Levante are back and this time they're ready to take on the world; The Guardian, 17 October 2011
- Levante pulls off the impossible; Sports Illustrated, 26 October 2011
- Underdog turns heads at the top in Spain; The New York Times, 28 October 2011