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European experience will benefit Saudi’s Future Falcons, say Valencia bosses

 In January 2023, Valencia CF participated in the Spanish Super Cup in Riyadh, an event that provided an opportunity for Saudi Arabian audiences to witness one of Spain’s prominent clubs in action. Despite a commendable performance, Valencia was eliminated by Real Madrid in the semifinals after a 1-1 draw and a subsequent 4-3 penalty shootout loss.

Valencia's Technical Director, Miguel Angel Corona, emphasized the significance of this experience, noting the enthusiastic support from Saudi fans. This event aligns with La Liga's broader strategy to expand its brand in the Middle East and globally, reflecting Valencia's ongoing efforts to rebuild and attract new supporters despite recent financial challenges.

Historically, Valencia enjoyed a golden era in the early 2000s, achieving remarkable successes under managers Hector Cuper and Rafael Benitez. These achievements include reaching two Champions League finals, winning two La Liga titles (2001/2002 and 2003/2004), and securing a UEFA Cup (2003/2004). Corona hopes to revive such glory and draw in a new generation of fans, particularly from the MENA region.

Beyond the Spanish Super Cup, Valencia is actively involved in fostering long-term ties with Saudi Arabia through initiatives like the Al-Abtal International Cup, an under-19 tournament organized in collaboration with Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Sport. This competition has seen Saudi teams, such as the Future Falcons, compete against European clubs, providing valuable experience and development opportunities for young Saudi players.

Luis Martinez, head of the VCF Academy, praised the Future Falcons initiative, emphasizing the importance of such competitions in raising the level of Saudi Arabian football talent. While acknowledging the high level of competition posed by European teams, Martinez sees significant potential in the development of young Saudi players through continued participation in these tournaments.

The Valencia CF Academy, recognized as one of the top academies in Europe, aims to strike a balance between nurturing individual talent and fostering a competitive team culture. Renowned for producing global superstars like Raul Albiol, David Silva, and Ferran Torres, the academy focuses on developing players who can either join Valencia’s first team or succeed in professional football elsewhere.

The academy implements a tactical methodology that ensures players at all levels are prepared to fit seamlessly into various teams as they progress. Emphasizing holistic development, the academy ensures that players continue their education and provides comprehensive support to meet their needs.

Valencia’s participation in the Spanish Super Cup and its engagement in initiatives like the Al-Abtal International Cup exemplify the club's commitment to building strong international relationships and fostering the development of football talent globally. These efforts are part of Valencia’s broader strategy to rebuild and regain its stature as a top European club.

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