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On October 23, 2011, Levante touched the sky of the First Division. Ten years have passed since Juanlu’s double and Koné’s goal at Madrigal catapulted the team to the top of the table. A decade, it is said soon. 2011-12 remains in the memory of the Orriols stands as the best season in the club’s history in the highest category of Spanish football.

“We had five consecutive victories, the team was in the Champions League, but achieving the lead, winning 0-3 at Villarreal, which was a Champions team with Borja Valero, Gonzalo, Rossi, Cani, a great team … “, assures Juan Ignacio Martínez, conductor of that team, for AS.

Levante Shield / Flag

And it is that, after the three points in Villarreal, with a large number of displaced fans, the Levantinists went en masse to meet them at the gates of the stadium despite being two in the morning to celebrate the leadership. An image that reflects the communion between the fans of those years.

“I remember it today and I still get goose bumps, it’s like a dream, the number of people who were in El Madrigal and then the reception in the Ciutat, already quite at night. The bus was going at 10 an hour for the people there. What’s more, Raimón lit the stadium as if he had started and placed the Levante flag as the leader. It was very beautiful and emotional“, confessed the Alicante.

The truth is that the key to the success of that Levante lay in the group’s atmosphere. In the event last Wednesday, Rubén Suárez, for example, stated that they arrived up to an hour before training “to be funny.” It was another football, in which Levante moved like a fish in water.

The truth is that nobody expected to start like this. The team had saved the category the previous season with two days left … It was my first experience in Primera and that stage at Levante changed my career “recalls JIM, whose experience at Orriols opened different doors for him in his career.

That Levante started the year like a shot. And it is that, despite drawing in the first two days against Getafe and Racing de Santander, victory at home against Real Madrid by José Mourinho, with the solitary goal of Arouna Koné, catapulted him to a seven-game winning streak. The match in question in Villarreal, was the penultimate of that achievement of matches, since the inertia continued against Real Sociedad and was stopped in the Reyno de Navarra (Osasuna), already on matchday 11.

That mattress that we took at the beginning helped us to make the best season ever reaching the Europa League and staying very close to the Champions League “, reflects Juan Ignacio.

Now the club recovers part of that DNA with the figure of Javi Pereira, current coach of the team and second in the stage of Juan Ignacio, who takes the reins of the team since the dismissal of Paco López. “Javi Pereira was a participant in that success,” acknowledges the current Zaragoza coach. “Perhaps I have a lot to thank these players for being here for having been part of that history, for becoming a better coach,” acknowledged the Badajoz at the emotional event at the Ciutat de València.

“The team based its success through the defensive block and had a lot of experience … And then there was Koné. Our counterattacks were deadly. We were called very defensive. But it is impossible for a defensive team to win seven games in a row. We had many automatisms. We were playing far back, but we were very fast: Valdo, Juanlu, Barkero, Koné … “, Juan Ignacio Martínez points to close. Sergio Ballesteros, captain of that team and granota icon, assured without blinking that “if Koné is not injured, we will enter the Champions League”. The anecdote of the Ivorian, yes, remains for history. Like the leadership achieved ten years ago at Madrigal.