Historic Matches – Centenariazo 2002

DATE: Wednesday 06 March, 2002

EVENT: Deportivo conquers its second Spanish Copa Del Rey during the 100th anniversary celebration of Real Madrid.

It was supposed to be a year to celebrate; Real Madrid was reaching the mark of 100 years of history and president Florentino Pérez decided that the celebration should be something without precedents, he arranged with the Spanish federation that the game of the final should be played exactly 100 years after the foundation of the “white house”. Sporting director Jorge Valdano forced coach Vicente Del Bosque to play with the normal starters during the Copa matches, in this way the team secured their participation in the final without major problems. It was a team full of stars, in the previous campaigns Florentino Pérez have signed Zinedine Zidane for a then world record fee of €78 million, while the move of Luis Figo was valued in €41 million. On that year the biggest incorporation was Brazilian Ronaldo, who a few months later would conquer the glory with his country during the FIFA World Cup played in Asia, though he was injured at the time of the Copa final.

But Deportivo had nothing to envy, the Galician team was coming after conquering its first liga championship and was still taking part on its second season at the UEFA Champions League, no matter the season was ending Depor was still having solid aspirations in both, the Spanish liga and the Champions League. In the summer of 2001, president Lendoiro have spent €21 million on new players with Sergio (€18 million) being the main new incorporation. Those were the days when Valerón, Naybet, Mauro Silva, Diego Tristán and the same Sergio were living the sweetest moments on their careers.

The pressure over Real Madrid’s players was too much and Deportivo took advantage of it, led by an inspired Sergio and Valerón, the Galicians outplayed the locals and dominated the game during the first forty-five minutes. A key was the early goal scored by Sergio, which was a masterpiece and a demonstration of how to move the ball over the pitch, action  that was capitalised by the Catalan midfielder.

The goal just raised the nerves at the local team, Real Madrid could do nothing against the dominance of Mauro Silva at midfield, the imagination of Fran at the sides and the always dangerous movements of Tristán in attack. Only Zidane showed some reaction, but his header hit the crossbar and his other attempt to score was stopped by Valencian keeper Molina.

And Deportivo struck twice before the pause as Diego Tristán found a drilled pass of Valerón inside the area to send both teams to the dressing room in the middle of a shocking image: a 0-2 in the scoresheet. One of the most memorable moments in the recent history of Deportivo was the celebration of the Andalusian striker when he scored the second goal, more precisely the legend on his shirt: “Riazor Blues on tour”.

Valerón had the big chance to define the game as he found himself alone against the goal at minute 50, but the Canarian could only hit the post. Then, Depor lost the control over the match, mainly because the entry of Solari gave new strength to the locals, soon the Madridismo saw a ray of hope as the eternal captain Raúl scored after a cross from Morientes.

Real Madrid tried to equalise the score and pulled of all its ‘stars’, but the defensive line of Deportivo, led by a giant Naybet, covered all the spaces and denied the equaliser to the white team. Sergio even had a new big chance to score, but this time he missed the target during a counterattack started by Víctor.

The victory had a big repercussion in the media, not only in Spain but in the whole world. And it’s that this triumph still considered as one of the biggest upsets in the history of football, that’s why the game is remembered as the Centenariazo, name derived from the fact of been the Centenario celebration of Real Madrid. For Depor it meant the second Copa Del Rey in the history of the Galician club and the third official title within three years.

Javier Irureta: "I think the key was to have scored an early goal, that goal by Sergio has knocked down Real Madrid and allowed us to play much more comfortable than we anticipated. When Raul scored, it complicated things a bit, because (Real) Madrid came up very well and is fair to recognise that in the second half they played better, in the end my people up front was lacking strength. But even when Madrid woke up we had the opportunity to score the third goal, again via Sergio.”

Arsenio Iglesias: “Depor gets a prize, because winning at the Bernabéu, the day of the Centenario and in the final of Copa Del Rey, isn’t at the reach of anyone. The team extended its trophy room with the second Copa, and if the one of 1995 will always be remembered as the first one in the history, the one of Chamartín comes in the hundredth edition of the tournament, and it has revalued the competition taking in mind the level of the finalists.”

“No one can deny Deportivo, who won at the Santiago Bernabéu, where it used to be more difficult, with all justice. The team of Javier Irureta was always a very well established block, against the individualities of Real Madrid. The blue and white team controlled the game for almost the fully-ninety minutes, tough Real Madrid awoke later to complicate things during the second half. Not enough to crack the strong Galician defense, team that defended with order and talent.”

Miguel Ángel Sánchez ‘Míchel’ (ex-Real Madrid player and TV commentator), “The first part of Depor was a marvel; the players know what Irureta wants them to do and have a great squad that can achieve everything for which they’re fighting. Although not all the starters are playing, they have enough players to compose two teams without noticing a big drop in the quality.”

Bebeto: “Every conquest of Depor makes me very proud, because even if I’m at the other side of the Atlantic, I still feel part of this club that welcomed me and my whole family in a very special way, with love, congratulations, you deserve it"

Real Madrid: César - Michel Salgado, Pavón (Solari 46'), Hierro, Roberto Carlos - Helguera, Makelele - Figo (McManaman 82'), Zidane, Raúl - Morientes (Guti 68').
Deportivo: Molina - Romero, Naybet, César, Scaloni - Mauro Silva, Sergio - Fran (Capdevila 83'), Valerón (Duscher 62'), Víctor (Djalminha 86') - Diego Tristán.
Goals: 0-1: (6') Sergio, 0-2: (38') Diego Tristán, 1-2: (58') Raúl.
Referee: Mejuto González. He showed yellow card to Mauro Silva (9'), Hierro (26'), Víctor (30'), Solari (65'), Fran (70'), Helguera (81') and Molina (90').
Attendance: 75,000 (Santiago Bernabéu)