Villarreal CF

Villarreal CF logo.svg
Full nameVillarreal Club de Fútbol S.A.D.
Nickname(s)El Submarino Amarillo
(The Yellow Submarine)
Founded10 March 1923; 98 years ago (1923-03-10) as Club Deportivo Villarreal
GroundEstadio de la Cerámica
PresidentFernando Roig
Head coachUnai Emery
LeagueLa Liga
2020–21La Liga, 7th of 20
WebsiteClub website
Current season

Villarreal Club de Fútbol, S.A.D. (Valencian: Vila-real Club de Futbol, S.A.D.), usually abbreviated to Villarreal CF or just Villarreal, is a professional football club based in Villarreal, Spain that plays in La Liga, the top flight of Spanish football.

Founded in 1923, the club spent much of its history in the lower divisions of Spanish football and made their La Liga debut only in 1998. In the 21st century, Villarreal gained some league stability, and the club made its first appearance in the UEFA Champions League in 2005. The club also appeared in the UEFA Europa League during this time, but sustained relegation in 2012, rebounding the next year and then remaining in the top division to date. Villarreal won its first major honour in 2021, by defeating Manchester United in the 2021 UEFA Europa League Final.

The club is nicknamed El Submarí Groguet or El Submarino Amarillo (Yellow Submarine) due to its yellow home kit, and due to being a low-profile team compared to Real Madrid, Barcelona, Atlético Madrid, and regional rivals Valencia. They play their home games at the Estadio de la Cerámica,[1] and have been touted as an example of a small but successful club.[2]


1923–29: Early years

Villarreal CF was founded as Club Deportivo Villarreal on 10 March 1923 "to promote all sports especially Football." The stadium was rented for 60 pesetas a month and ticket prices were set at half a peseta for men and a quarter of a peseta for children. Women were granted free admission.[3] On 17 June 1923, Castellón, a modern rival of the club, played the first match against a club named after Miguel de Cervantes. On 21 October of that year, Villarreal played their first game ever, playing against Castellón.[3] Villarreal started off with a kit of white shirts and black shorts, reflected in their first badge.[4]

1929–98: Time in lower divisions

Villarreal entered regional competitions within the Spanish football pyramid from 1929 to 1930 onwards. The 1934–35 season saw the team lose to Cartagena when a win would have seen them promoted to the nationwide Second Division.[3] The following season saw Villarreal win the First Division of the region before the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War.[3]

When the war finished in 1939, the club played again in the Second Division of the region.[3] However, CD Villarreal was dissolved in the early 1940s, and in 1942, CA Foghetecaz, an acronym for the club's founders (Font, Gil, Herrero, Teuler, Catalá and Zaragoza), was one of several clubs established in its place. In 1946, the new club joined the Valencian Football Federation and renamed itself as CAF Villarreal, where the F stood for Foghetecaz.[4]

The name changed again to the current Villarreal CF in 1954, with a badge similar to the present one.[4] They finished seventh and then fourth twice in the First regional league before being promoted to the Tercera Liga (Third Nationwide) as champions in 1956. They were relegated in 1960–61 after finishing 14th.[3]

The club adopted their present badge in the middle of 1966.[4] In 1966–67, Villarreal returned to the Tercera as champions. In 1970, they reached the national Segunda for the first time.[3] After narrowly avoiding relegation in their first season, they were relegated the following season. In 1975–76, they were relegated from the Tercera to the Regionals, but were promoted back again the next season. In 1986–87, Villarreal were promoted to the Segunda Liga B.[3] In 1990, they finished 18th and were relegated back to the Tercera.

There were back-to-back promotions as the club returned to Segunda B and finished second, earning promotion to Segunda A for the first time. From 1992 to 1993, Villarreal were often in low or mid-table positions, but reached the play-offs in 1997–98 by finishing fourth.[5] The two-legged play-off was against Compostela. Villarreal hosted the first leg which was a 0–0 draw, but the second leg at the home of the Galician team was a 1–1 draw, thus Villarreal were promoted on the away goals rule.

1998–2012: La Liga and European debuts

Villarreal's La Liga debut started with a match against reigning European champions Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium on 31 August 1998. The first home game was against Celta de Vigo[5] the week after. Because of a difficult season, Villarreal were relegated to the Segunda División for the 1999–2000 season, but by finishing third, they were then promoted back to the Primera División.

Arsenal FC vs Villarreal CF UEFA Champions League 2008–09 quarter-finals.

After finishing seventh on their return to the Primera, Villarreal finished in 15th place for two-straight seasons.[5] Villarreal competed in the UEFA Intertoto Cup in the middle of 2002, defeating FH of Iceland, Torino of Italy, and Troyes of France. They lost in the final to compatriots Málaga, 2–1 on aggregate.[6]

In the middle of 2003, they defeated the Dutch team Heerenveen in the final of the Intertoto Cup, thereby qualifying for the UEFA Cup. In their major European debut, Villarreal reached the semi-finals of the UEFA Cup, losing to neighbours and eventual champions Valencia. In the league, Villarreal finished in eighth place. In the middle of 2004, Villarreal retained the Intertoto Cup, beating compatriots Atlético Madrid on penalties after the final finished 2–2 on aggregate. This qualified them to the UEFA Cup. They lost in the quarter-finals of the 2004–05 UEFA Cup to Dutch side AZ, losing 3–2 on aggregate. During the same season, Villarreal finished in third place in La Liga, earning the club their first direct qualification to a European tournament, the Champions League. The club's centre-forward Diego Forlán won the Pichichi Trophy for top scorer in the league, with 25 goals.

Villarreal defeated the English Premier League's Everton in a play-off for the Champions League group stages. The group saw Villarreal go undefeated, drawing both games against Manchester United and achieving a draw and a win each against Lille of France and Benfica of Portugal. The win over Benfica was away and both teams advanced to the last 16.[7]

The club then drew 3–3 against Rangers of Scotland in the Last 16, advancing on away goals due to a 2–2 draw at Ibrox. In the quarter-finals, Villarreal beat Internazionale on away goals after finishing 2–2 on aggregate. The club bowed out in the semi-finals against Arsenal, losing 1–0 away at Highbury. Juan Román Riquelme had a penalty saved by Jens Lehmann in the home game, which finished 0–0. Arsenal went on to lose in the final in Paris to another Spanish club, Barcelona. Villarreal finished seventh in La Liga, which only earned an Intertoto Cup position.

Villarreal contested the Intertoto Cup in the middle of 2006 and was knocked out in its first game, to Maribor of Slovenia. The first leg was lost 2–1 at home and the away game was a 1–1 draw.[8] The team finished 5th in La Liga and qualified for the UEFA Cup. Villarreal gained their best-ever league position in 2008, finishing second to Real Madrid by eight points, and also reached the last 32 in that season's UEFA Cup. After defeating BATE Borisov of Belarus in a play-off, the team won Group C unbeaten.[9] Their group opponents were Fiorentina of Italy, Mladá Boleslav of Czech Republic, IF Elfsborg of Sweden, and AEK Athens of Greece.

In the last 32, Villarreal were defeated by eventual champions Zenit Saint Petersburg, losing the first leg 1–0 in Russia to a Pavel Pogrebnyak goal. The second leg was won 2–1 by Villarreal at El Madrigal, but Zenit advanced on away goals.

The club automatically qualified for the 2008-09 UEFA Champions League, due to them finishing second in La Liga the previous season. They drew Manchester United, for the second consecutive campaign, Celtic, and Aalborg BK. They made a good start by holding current European champions Manchester United to a goal-less draw at Old Trafford, a third 0–0 draw in a row against the English giants. A first win was sealed on 30 September by beating Gordon Strachan's Celtic 1–0 at El Madrigal, courtesy of a Marcos Senna free-kick. On 21 October, during a Champions League match against Aalborg, they scored six goals to three. The Spaniards went through to the knock-out stage after drawing 2–2 with Aalborg in Denmark and drawing goalless once again against Manchester United. In the last group-stage match, they lost to an already-eliminated Celtic.

In the knock-out stage, they faced Panathinaikos, who left Villarreal with a 1–1 away advantage, despite this the Greeks were to lose 1–2 in Athens. Villarreal reached the quarter-finals for the second time in two tries, and were once again paired with Arsenal. The first leg saw a 1–1 draw by a free-kick by Marcos Senna, equalised by an Emmanuel Adebayor volley. Theo Walcott, Emmanuel Adebayor, and Robin van Persie secured a 3–0 win for Arsenal on the return, knocking Villarreal out of the tournament.

Real Madrid vs. Villarreal in 2011.

Despite finishing outside of a European qualifying spot in the domestic league, Villarreal was given a place in the qualifying round of the 2010–11 Europa League after UEFA determined that Mallorca's financial irregularities precluded them from taking part in the tournament.

A 5–0 home win and a 2–1 away win against Dnepr Mogilev qualified them for the group stage. Villarreal suffered an early setback following a shock 2–0 loss in their away fixture against Dinamo Zagreb. Despite this, however, later wins against Dinamo, Club Brugge and PAOK saw them top their group.

After beating Napoli, Bayer Leverkusen and Twente in the knockout phases, Villarreal qualified for the semi-finals to face tournament favourites Porto. After taking a 0–1 lead at the Estádio do Dragão, Porto made a remarkable turnaround that ended in a 5–1 defeat for Villarreal. Although Villarreal won the second leg with a 3–2 win, Porto's first leg goal total saw them advance to the final on aggregate, where they beat Braga to be crowned champions. Giuseppe Rossi finished as the tournament's second top goalscorer with 11 goals, behind Porto's Radamel Falcao.

2012–2021: Relegation and European glory

Last match of the 2012–13 season game against UD Almería. Finally, Villarreal won and were promoted to La Liga.

On 13 May 2012, Villarreal were relegated from La Liga after defeat to Atlético Madrid. Following a horrendous season, the club suffered a shattering tragedy when Manolo Preciado, appointed as Villarreal's new manager on 6 June 2012, died of a heart attack later that day.[10] Following their relegation, there was a mass exodus of players at the club, with star players such as Borja Valero, Diego López, Giuseppe Rossi and Nilmar leaving the side.[11]

After one year in the Segunda División, Villarreal were promoted back to La Liga on the final day of the season after finishing the year second after champions Elche. The team began its new tenure in the top flight by winning its first three games; the winning streak ended with a tie against Real Madrid at El Madrigal, though the team was undefeated until falling to Real Betis 1–0 in the seventh matchday of the season. The Yellow Submarine finished the 2013–14 campaign in sixth, thus qualifying them for next season's Europa League.

In 2014–15, Villarreal again finished the year in sixth, enough to secure direct qualification to the Europa League group stage. In the 2015–16 season, Villarreal led La Liga for the first time during the sixth and seventh weeks, before falling to fifth place the following week. The club ended the season in 4th place and thus advanced to the 2016-17 UEFA Champions League playoff round. The club progressed to the semifinal of the Europa League, but were knocked out by Liverpool. Villarreal won the first leg 1–0, but lost 3–0 in Liverpool to lose 3–1 on aggregate.[12]

In 2019–20, Villarreal finished 5th, earning a place in the 2020–21 UEFA Europa League. The team advanced to the 2021 UEFA Europa League Final, where the club achieved a 1–1 result after extra time and beat favored Manchester United 11–10 on penalties.[13] This was the first major continental trophy won by the team. With the win, Villarreal switched the next year's participation from the inaugural 2021–22 Europa Conference League to the 2021–22 Champions League.[14]


Villarreal has supported a long rivalry with Castellón for geographical reasons, since both are from the province of Castellón. They also rival Valencia, since the two had been the most competitive teams of the Valencian Community; this clash is called the "Derbi de la Comunitat."


  • Villarreal's biggest league win at home was by a five-goal margin, achieved on four occasions. The club recorded 5–0 home victories against Salamanca (1998–99 La Liga), Celta Vigo (2002–03 and 2016–17 La Liga), and Tenerife (2009–10 La Liga). The most goals Villarreal scored in a league game was six, in a 6–3 home win against Racing Santander during the 2003–04 La Liga season.[15]
  • The club's largest away league wins were a 5–1 victory at Las Palmas during the 2000–01 La Liga season, a 4–0 victory at Real Sociedad in the same division during the 2004–05 season, and 4–0 and 5–1 victories at Celta Vigo and Levante, respectively, both during the 2020–21 La Liga season.[15]
  • Won the 2021 UEFA Europa League Final for the first time in the club's history, by beating Manchester United 11–10 on penalties, after the game had finished 1–1 after extra time.[16]

Club colours

El Madrigal

The club's famous yellow kit dates back to 1947. With the new season fast approaching, the son of the then Villarreal president travelled to Valencia to purchase replacements of the club's official kit of white shirts and black shorts. Discovering that the shop had neither in stock, he instead bought the only colour that they did have, which happened to be yellow. The players agreed that the shirts were suitable, although they weren't keen on the black shorts, so the president's son travelled to Castellón and purchased a batch of white shorts. The players voted that they should be dyed blue.[17] After remaining as the club's official kit for some time, the yellow shirts and blue shorts combination was last worn in the 2002–03 season, and the club has since sported all yellow kits.[18] Away colours have been navy blue.

From 2005 to 30 June 2011, the shirt sponsor was "Aeroport Castello", an airport. The current shirt sponsor is Pamesa, a ceramics company. From the 2016–17 season, the kit is made by Joma, having previously been produced by the Chinese company Xtep and Puma of Germany among others.




Season to season

Season Tier Division Place Copa del Rey
1947–48 5 2ª Reg.
1948–49 5 2ª Reg.
1949–50 5 2ª Reg. 1st
1950–51 5 2ª Reg. 1st
1951–52 4 1ª Reg. 7th
1952–53 4 1ª Reg. 4th
1953–54 4 1ª Reg. 2nd
1954–55 4 1ª Reg. 2nd / 3rd
1955–56 4 1ª Reg. 1st
1956–57 3 8th
1957–58 3 5th
1958–59 3 6th
1959–60 3 12th
1960–61 3 14th
1961–62 4 1ª Reg. 14th
1962–63 4 1ª Reg. 15th
1963–64 4 1ª Reg. 6th
1964–65 4 1ª Reg. 3rd
1965–66 4 1ª Reg. 3rd
1966–67 4 1ª Reg. 1st
Season Tier Division Place Copa del Rey
1967–68 3 3rd
1968–69 3 9th
1969–70 3 1st Third round
1970–71 2 16th Round of 32
1971–72 2 17th Fourth round
1972–73 3 12th Third round
1973–74 3 12th Third round
1974–75 3 8th Third round
1975–76 3 13th Second round
1976–77 4 Reg. Pref. 2nd
1977–78 4 15th First round
1978–79 4 13th Second round
1979–80 4 9th Third round
1980–81 4 16th First round
1981–82 4 7th
1982–83 4 14th
1983–84 4 13th
1984–85 4 14th
1985–86 4 6th
1986–87 4 3rd Fourth round
Season Tier Division Place Copa del Rey
1987–88 3 2ªB 2nd Second round
1988–89 3 2ªB 4th First round
1989–90 3 2ªB 18th
1990–91 4 2nd Second round
1991–92 3 2ªB 2nd Second round
1992–93 2 13th Quarter-finals
1993–94 2 16th Fifth round
1994–95 2 10th Fourth round
1995–96 2 15th First round
1996–97 2 10th Third round
1997–98 2 4th First round
1998–99 1 18th Round of 16
1999–2000 2 3rd Round of 16
2000–01 1 7th Round of 32
2001–02 1 15th Quarter-finals
2002–03 1 15th First round
2003–04 1 8th Round of 16
2004–05 1 3rd Second round
2005–06 1 7th Round of 16
2006–07 1 5th Round of 16
Season Tier Division Place Copa del Rey
2007–08 1 2nd Quarter-finals
2008–09 1 5th Round of 32
2009–10 1 7th Round of 16
2010–11 1 4th Quarter-finals
2011–12 1 18th Round of 32
2012–13 2 2nd Second round
2013–14 1 6th Round of 16
2014–15 1 6th Semi-finals
2015–16 1 4th Round of 16
2016–17 1 5th Round of 16
2017–18 1 5th Round of 16
2018–19 1 14th Round of 16
2019–20 1 5th Quarter-finals
2020–21 1 7th Quarter-finals

In Europe

The team bus
Accurate as of 26 May 2021
Competition Pld W D L GF GA GD W%
UEFA Champions League 34 9 12 13 31 40 −9 026.47
UEFA Cup / UEFA Europa League 126 73 29 24 225 125 +100 057.94
UEFA Intertoto Cup 24 12 8 4 32 16 +16 050.00
Total 184 94 49 41 288 181 +107 051.09

UEFA club coefficient ranking

As of 29 May 2021[19]
Rank Team Points
20 Italy Napoli 74.000
21 Germany RB Leipzig 66.000
22 Spain Villarreal 62.000
23 Austria Red Bull Salzburg 59.000
24 Portugal Benfica 58.000

Nickname and mascot

The team is nicknamed El Submarino Amarillo (the Yellow Submarine) because of their yellow strip. The mascot (named Groguet, "Little Yellow") is characterised as an anthropomorphic submarine. He made his debut on 26 October 2001 and was named on 13 December that year by a local 12-year-old, Javier Fuster Almela, following a province-wide competition open to under-15s.[20]


Current squad

As of 10 June 2021[21]

Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.

No. Pos. Nation Player
1 GK Spain ESP Sergio Asenjo
2 DF Spain ESP Mario Gaspar (captain)
3 DF Spain ESP Raúl Albiol (3rd captain)
4 DF Spain ESP Pau Torres
5 MF Spain ESP Dani Parejo
6 DF Argentina ARG Ramiro Funes Mori
7 FW Spain ESP Gerard
8 DF Argentina ARG Juan Foyth
9 FW Colombia COL Carlos Bacca
10 MF Spain ESP Vicente Iborra (vice-captain)
11 FW Nigeria NGA Samuel Chukwueze
12 FW Spain ESP Dani Raba
13 GK Argentina ARG Gerónimo Rulli
No. Pos. Nation Player
14 MF Spain ESP Manu Trigueros
15 DF Ecuador ECU Pervis Estupiñán
17 FW Spain ESP Paco Alcácer
18 DF Spain ESP Alberto Moreno
19 MF France FRA Francis Coquelin
20 DF Spain ESP Rubén Peña
23 MF Spain ESP Moi Gómez
24 DF Spain ESP Alfonso Pedraza
25 MF France FRA Étienne Capoue
30 MF Spain ESP Yeremy
32 MF Spain ESP Álex Baena
34 FW Spain ESP Fer Niño

Reserve team

Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.

No. Pos. Nation Player
26 MF Uruguay URU Ramiro Guerra
27 DF Spain ESP Lanchi
28 MF Spain ESP Carlo Adriano
No. Pos. Nation Player
35 GK Sweden SWE Filip Jörgensen
40 FW Spain ESP Álex Millán
44 DF Romania ROU Andrei Rațiu

Out on loan

Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.

No. Pos. Nation Player
DF Spain ESP Enric Franquesa (at Girona until 30 June 2021)
DF Spain ESP Jorge Cuenca (at Almería until 30 June 2021)
DF Spain ESP Migue Leal (at Groningen until 30 June 2021)
DF Morocco MAR Sofian Chakla (at Getafe until 30 June 2021)
DF Spain ESP Xavi Quintillà (at Norwich City until 30 June 2021)
MF Spain ESP Iván Martín (at Mirandés until 30 June 2021)
No. Pos. Nation Player
MF Argentina ARG Santiago Cáseres (at Vélez Sarsfield until 31 December 2021)
MF Spain ESP Javi Ontiveros (at Huesca until 30 June 2021)
MF Spain ESP Manu Morlanes (at Almería until 30 June 2021)
MF Spain ESP Sergio Lozano (at Cartagena until 30 June 2021)
FW Spain ESP Mario González (at Tondela until 30 June 2021)
FW Senegal SEN Nicolas Jackson (at Mirandés until 30 June 2021)
FW Spain ESP Simón Moreno (at Mirandés until 30 June 2021)

Most appearances

Bold denotes players still at the club

As of 25 April 2021.
# Name Matches
1 Spain Bruno Soriano 425
2 Spain Mario Gaspar 401
3 Spain Manu Trigueros 371
4 Spain Marcos Senna 363
5 Spain Santi Cazorla 334
6 Spain Cani 327
7 Argentina Rodolfo Arruabarrena 270
8 Spain Jaume Costa 267
9 Spain Javi Venta 253
Argentina Gonzalo Rodríguez

Top Scorers

Bold denotes players still at the club

As of 22 May 2021.
# Name Goals
1 Italy Giuseppe Rossi 82
2 Spain Gerard Moreno 82
3 Uruguay Diego Forlán 58
4 Spain Santi Cazorla 57
5 Democratic Republic of the Congo Cédric Bakambu 48
6 Argentina Juan Román Riquelme 45
7 Colombia Carlos Bacca 43
8 Spain Victor 42
9 Nigeria Ikechukwu Uche 36
10 Brazil Nilmar 34

Current technical staff

As of 23 July 2020


Position Name
Head Coach Spain Unai Emery
Assistant Coach Spain Quique Álvarez
Goalkeeping Coach Spain Jesús Unanua
Fitness Coach Spain José Romero
Delegate Spain Xisco Nadal


Women's football

See also


  1. ^ Jones, Rich (9 February 2019). "We ranked the top 10 stadium in La Liga – with a surprise No. 1". mirror. Retrieved 24 January 2020.
  2. ^ Mark Elkington (14 May 2012). "Villarreal relegated in dramatic finale to La Liga". The Independent.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h "Villarreal C.F. – Web Oficial".
  4. ^ a b c d "Villarreal C.F. – Web Oficial".
  5. ^ a b c "Villarreal C.F. – Web Oficial".
  6. ^ "Villarreal C.F. – Web Oficial".
  7. ^ "Villarreal C.F. – Web Oficial".
  8. ^ "Villarreal C.F. – Web Oficial".
  9. ^ "Villarreal C.F. – Web Oficial".
  10. ^ "Manuel Preciado dies suddenly at 54". Associated Press. 7 June 2012. Retrieved 7 June 2012.
  11. ^ "Rossi, Nilmar, Zapata & the Villarreal players who could leave in fire sale at El Madrigal this summer -".
  12. ^ "Liverpool v Villarreal". Union of European Football Associations. 5 May 2016. Retrieved 26 May 2021.
  13. ^ "Manchester United lose Europa League final as Villarreal win penalty shootout after David de Gea miss". Evening Standard. 26 May 2021. Retrieved 26 May 2021.
  14. ^ "Regulations of the UEFA Champions League". Union of European Football Associations. 19 April 2021. Retrieved 27 May 2021.
  15. ^ a b "Villarreal C.F. – Web Oficial".
  16. ^ "Villarreal 1–1 Manchester United (aet, 11–10 pens): Spanish side win Europa League in marathon shoot-out". UEFA. 26 May 2021. Retrieved 27 May 2021.
  17. ^ Ball, Phil (2003). Morbo The Story of Spanish Football. London: Perseverance Works. ISBN 978-0-9540134-6-2
  18. ^ "Villarreal CF".
  19. ^ "Member associations – UEFA Coefficients – Club coefficients". UEFA.
  20. ^ Villarreal C.F. – Web Oficial
  21. ^ "Primer equipo" [First team] (in Spanish). Villarreal CF. Retrieved 27 August 2015.
  22. ^ "Squad". Retrieved 11 June 2020.

External links


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