Guillot: “The best thing about Mestalla was always the warmth of its people”

Mestalla is celebrating. The Valencia Coliseum becomes a hundred years old. After hundreds of games in Ché territory, the club pays homage to his home this Friday against Nottingham Forest. Valencia pays tribute to its home against the first foreign rival to play an official match at the Mestalla. It was in the Fairs Cup of the 61-62 season. More than 60 years have passed since that historic match of the round of 32 that ended with the Cup in the showcases of Valencia.

As a tribute to that European baptism at Mestalla, Nottingham is once again the star guest. Valencia passed that tie against the English team like a tornado. In the first leg, in Mestalla, the Ché team won 2-0, with a brace from Waldo. In the second leg, Valencia stunned Europe after winning 1-5, with another double from Waldo and a hat-trick from Héctor Núñez.

Vicente Guillot, one of the few survivors of that tie, remembers for AS that Mestalla premiere in Europe. “Unfortunately, we all remember the second leg more than the first leg. We almost died on the plane when we passed the Pyrenees. I think we got to touch the water with our hands. I remember that the roof of the plane collapsed. On the street, the next day, all they talked about was the plane crash”, says Guillot.

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The striker, recalling the tragedy, reviews what the old Mestalla was like, from the grass to the stands, passing through the box. “The pitch was not bad, but compared to the current one it was a potato. Still, it was fine. I always say that the one who doesn’t play football well on this pitch now is that he has no idea, ”Guillot jokes.

The bulrush chairs, so characteristic of the time, gave luster to the gallery. “Those seats were in the Tribune, although I remember that there were more people standing than sitting. The best thing about Mestalla is that its fans have always been attached to the players and that is fundamental, the warmth of its people. When I see a field with an athletics track, I put my hands to my head. I don’t understand. The Mestalla of my time was also characterized by how close we were to the fans. In fact, the playing field could not be made bigger because the stands were very close ”, says Guillot.

Image of the initial formations of Valencia and Nottingham Forest in the first official European match that was played at Mestalla, in 1961.

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Image of the initial formations of Valencia and Nottingham Forest in the first official European match that was played at Mestalla, in 1961.ACE DAILY

The box, the benches and the changing room tunnel have completely changed. Also the façade, where the concrete has given way to large canvases that “They take away the cold aspect of the field from the outside”, according to Guillot. “The changing rooms now are blessed glory, like the exit tunnel to the field, with a mat and everything. In the old box I only saw one match and that was when I broke my clavicle and couldn’t play. The box now is marvelous, especially because of the appetizers they put on”, jokes Guillot, who also has a nod to the seats of honor today. “They are so comfortable that if you don’t like the game or see that they are playing badly, you can sleep for a while,” assures Guillot.

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The ex-soccer player from Aldaia wore the Valencia shirt 237 times. He was rarely a substitute. Now, he affirms that he almost “compensates” for not playing as a starter because of the “comfortable chairs on the bench.” Although Mestalla has changed a lot in its history, for the survivors and the players who were able to enjoy the stadium in another era, the “essence” and the “smell of football” that the Valencia field gives off remains the same.

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