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21 years ago, Villarreal joined the big leagues

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Where were you when....

Villarreal flag
Villarreal flag

Today was the 21st anniversary of Villarreal’s first promotion to the Primera, drawing 1-1 with Compostela after a 0-0 draw at home. You can see the highlights of that away match here.

So I have to ask if any of us were aware of this when it happened, 21 years ago? I certainly wasn’t. And to be honest, outside Vila-real and environs, I doubt a lot of people noticed. La Liga back then had a much different look than today; Betis was the only Seville team, Valencia the only team from the País Valenciá, Real Sociedad and Athletic Bilbao were the two Basque representatives and finished in the next two places behind winners Barcelona. Madrid had Real and Atleti, that was it.

Compostela are one of three clubs in the 1997-98 La Liga that have essentially disappeared in the intervening years, Merída and Salamanca being the others. I’m sure to many it looked like one small team was replacing another—especially since Villarreal could only finish 18th the next year and lost in the relegation playoffs to Sevilla.

But still, this was the beginning of what has been an amazingly productive run in the Primera. Villarreal are now 21st in the all-time La Liga points table after only 19 seasons in the top flight. If anyone on here remembers the promotion 21 years ago, let us know, but for most of us overseas fans, Villarreal was still a blip on our radar at that point—certainly mine!!