17 de Mayo de 2001. El diario Marca español titula «Maldita sea». No es una blasfemia. Busca demostrar enojo, tristeza, desilusión. Debajo del título, se observa la imagen de un futbolista llorando. Deportivo Alavés, el equipo español que se ganó el cariño de todos y hace solo dos años llegó a la Primera División, acaba de perder la final de la Copa UEFA ante Liverpool.

82 puntos. 24 partidos ganados. 10 empatados y solo 8 derrotas. Primer puesto y ascenso a Primera. Esa fue la “sencilla” temporada 97/98 para el Deportivo Alavés, que pocos años atrás había corrido riesgo de desaparecer producto de una crisis económica. Sin embargo, con la llegada de un grupo inversor, esos fantasmas desaparecieron, y tan solo 3 años después, el equipopresidido por Juan Arregui Garay continuaba en Segunda.  Luego, el momento relatado a principio de este párrafo. Consumado el ascenso, los Babazorros Albiazules ya demostraban ser un equipo fuerte que había dejado atrás la crisis para triunfar en España: en octavos de final de la Copa del Rey, eliminaron al Real Madrid, y en 4tos al Deportivo La Coruña. No tuvieron la misma suerte en Semis, donde cayeron ante el Mallorca. Pese a no levantar el trofeo, los del País Vasco comenzaban a ganarse el respeto de todo España. Pero el respeto se convirtió en admiración. En la temporada 2000/2001, el sexto puesto le permitió al Alavés disputar, por primera vez en la historia, una competición internacional: la Copa UEFA.

Resultado de imagen para alaves liverpool

En las primeras fases de la UEFA, el Deportivo demostraba que no sería un equipo fácil de vencer. 4-3 global al Gaziantespspor de Turquía. Luego, otros triunfos (5-3 al Lillestrom y 4-2 Rosemborg) le permitieron a los españoles disputar las fases finales. El sueño tomaba rumbo, y ni siquiera el poderoso Inter de Milán fue capaz de impedir el pase a cuartos. En el mismísimo Giussepe Meazza, Alavés se impuso por 2-0 luego de un empate en España. Ya entre los 8 mejores, el rival fue un compatriota: Rayo Vallecano. Global de 4-2, y otro rival en el camino. Más tarde, para demostrar que nada fue casualidad, en semifinales Alavés humilló al FCK alemán, propinándole un contundente 9-2 global. El sueño estaba cada vez más cerca.
65000 personas se acercaron a Wenstfalestadion la noche en que Deportivo Alavés sorprendía a todos llegando a una final internacional. Del otro lado estaba el poderosísimo Liverpool inglés. Pero los españoles no se achicaron. El resultado fue 5-4 a favor de los ‘Reds’, que debieron recurrir al tiempo extra, ya que en los 90 minutos reglamentarios, el conjunto español remontó 2 veces el resultado. En la prorroga el nerviosismo se hizo evidente: Alavés se quedó con 9 hombres producto de las expulsiones de Antonio Karmona y Magno Mocelín. Para empeorar las cosas, a 3 minutos del final Delfí Geli metió en propia puerta lo que significaba gol, triunfo y título para el cuadro inglés. Todo estaba perdido.


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