A club with a proud history and a human touch
FANFARE: Two fans (holding jerseys) posing for a photo with a Valencia official, captain Daniel Parejo (in orange), and striker Paco Alcacer (near left). The fans became famous after a video of them crying following last season's Europa League semi-final loss went viral. TNP PHOTO: GARY LIM
A metal plate on the wall of the players' tunnel indicates the water level of the city during the flood of 1957, when thousands sought refuge and averted danger at the Mestalla.
The motif of a bat, depicted by the black seats on the banked terraces opposite the grandstand that measures 90 metres across, also appears in the emblem of the city.
It is said that the symbol originated from the 13th century, when the King was about to reconquer the city.
A bat landed on his flag, and he interpreted it as a lucky omen.
The trophy cabinet proudly displays the club's silverware, the most prized of which are the seven league titles and three Uefa Cup/Europa League wins.
Here in Valencia, they say that the football club represent the people's dreams and ambitions.
The historic Mestalla is at the heart of it all. Opened in 1923, it is the oldest stadium in the Spanish top flight.
In its arteries are staff determined to keep it as a people's club.
A section of the stadium, directly opposite the Curva Nord, has been segregated for families.
Valencia even offer nanny services, said to be the first in Spain.
Before every home match, an area of 2,000 sq m just outside the stadium is turned into a fan zone, complete with live- band performances and other entertainment.
On-loan striker Rodrigo Moreno Machado stopped to exchange greetings when he saw me and a couple of accompanying officials in the dressing room when I toured the stadium hours before Valencia's first home game of the new Primera Liga season against Malaga.
He then headed to his locker and changed into his match kit.
The 23-year-old, who arrived from Benfica about a month ago, is an up-and-coming star who is still very much down-to-earth.
The extremely lovable and chatty kit man Bernardo Espana's entrance was preceded by his booming voice.
At 76 years old, and after 47 years of service, he remains very much in love with the club.
During his younger days, Espana slept at the Mestalla every night. To him, it was home.
Later that night, Valencia beat Malaga 3-0.
Just outside the dressing rooms after the final whistle, a couple of kids posed for photographs with players Daniel Parejo and Paco Alcacer, and received their jerseys as gifts.
The two had made the news when footage of them crying in the stadium terraces after last season's Europa League semi-final defeat by Sevilla went viral.
This was Valencia's way of saying thank-you to the fans who care.
This is a football club with history and a human touch. - GARY LIM