Wednesday, 2 October 2013

'We were better than Bayern' - Mendieta says Valencia deserved to win Champions League in 2001

The midfielder admits the Spanish side were not ready to face Real Madrid in the 2000 final, but believes the trophy should have been theirs in a second showpiece a year later

By Ben Hayward | Spanish Football Writer

Former Valencia midfielder Gaizka Mendieta says the Spanish side deserved to beat Bayern Munich and lift the Champions League in 2001.

Valencia famously lost back-to-back finals in 2000 and 2001, going down 3-0 to Real Madrid in their first showpiece appearance before being edged out on penalties by Bayern a year later.

That match had got off to the perfect start for Valencia as Mendieta gave the Spanish side the lead with a penalty after just three minutes, but Stefan Effenberg levelled from the spot early in the second half and the Bavarians then triumphed 5-4 in the shootout.

"What we achieved with that Valencia team that played two finals in a row – there are not many teams that can say they have done that," Mendieta told us in episode one of MasterCard’s Priceless Moments video series.

"At the time, they were very painful. Looking back now, the one against Real Madrid... we weren’t ready for those kind of games. It was our first big final and I don’t think we had the experience.

"But in the second one we were better than Bayern Munich and deserved to win that final."
Check out the video above to watch the full interview with the midfielder who made close to 300 appearances for Valencia, scoring 58 goals. -------------------

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