Establishing themselves as a top flight team in La Liga in 2015-16, Celta Vigo have been putting together some seriously impressive performances in the first half of the season, not least the 4-2 thumping of all-conquering Barcelona. So, as they head into the halfway stage of the season still with genuine Champions League ambitions we’ve put together some of the essential facts that’ll make you sound smart down the pub.
Where Are Celta Vigo From?
Celta hail from the small town of Vigo in the Galicia region of Spain’s North-West Iberian coast. In the aftermath of Franco’s death in 1975, as Spain was having to re-formulate its governance and constitution, Galicia was granted semi-autonomous status and is officially a nation in its own right as well as a part of Spain.
When Were They Formed?
With ambitions to rival the success of the Basque region within Spanish football, the main clubs in Galicia, Real Vigo Sporting and Real Fortuna FC, decided to merge and create a new entity.
And thus Celta Vigo were formed.
And the Celta Vigo Home Ground?
Well, this would be Balaidos.
Opened in 1928 following a 4-year construction project, the stadium was inaugurated when Celta scraped past Basque team Real Union 7-0.
Perhaps its crowning moment was in the 1982 World Cup as it hosted Italy’s three group matches en route to them winning the tournament. Not that you’d have guessed it at the time, all three matches ending in draws (0-0 v Poland, 1-1 draws v Cameroon and Peru).
Celta Vigo play in a light blue shirt with white shorts – a bit like Coventry.
Celta are generally known as: Os Celestes, which translates to The Sky Blues.
A bit like Coventry.
The EuroCelta Years
The late-90s, early 200os are generally regarded as one of Celta’s consistently successful periods,establishing themselves for a number of years as consistent performers in the top flight. Under the guidance of manager Javier Irureta, The Sky Blues were a constant thorn in the sides of the big boys as they kept themselves in the loftier regions of the Primera Liga.
Regularly qualifying for Europe in this time, Celta had some notable scalps along the way, including back-to-back wins over English teams in the 98-99 UEFA Cup, eliminating both Aston Villa and Liverpool before finally succumbing to French club Marseille in the in the quarter-finals.
The culmination of their European adventure however came in 2003-04 with qualification into the Champions League, making it out of a tough group which included champions-elect AC Milan. They would eventually lose in the round of 16 to Arsenal.
It was the end of an era. That season, Celta’s league form completely deserted them, ending the season languishing second from bottom and an ignominious exit from the top division. Following a few yo-yo years between the divisions Celta would drop out again in 2007, not returning to the top flight until 2012.
Have they won anything?
Unfortunately, that first league championship or Copa Del Rey victory has yet to arrive at Balaidos, the closest coming has been a few losing finalists across the decades.
On the other hand, they have claimed three Second Division titles en route to promotion and, lest we forget their total dominance of the Galician championship back in the 1920s.
Notable Players / Managers
Whilst not necessarily the most noted roster of players to grace Spanish football they have nonetheless been a number of stars to have passed through the Iberian club over the years.
- Savo Milosevic – Serbian star Milosevic was a prodigiously talented attacker who represented former Yugoslavia (later Serbia-Montenegro) at 2 World Cups. He also played at Euro 2000, going on to win the Golden Boot at the tournament.
- Michel Salgado – Salgado would go on to be an integral part of Real Madrid’s all-conquering Galactico’s era, enjoying 15 glorious years as right-back with Madrid and Spain (and Blackburn!). But it all started at Celta where he spent 4 years at the start of his career.
- Claude Makelele – Makelele was an integral part of the Celta team that made a mark in Europe in the late 90s,spending 2 seasons at the club before moving on to huge success with Real Madrid and Chelsea and re-defining the holding midfielder role in football.