Vicente Rodriguez, better known as just Vicente, currently plays in England for Brighton & Hove Albion, although he will always be associated with his hometown club, Valencia. The pacy winger has been blighted by injuries throughout his career, although he has still managed nearly four hundred club appearances, plus another eighty-two games for Spain’s various national team levels.
He started his career at Valencian club Levante, then in the Segunda, and had two fine seasons before his dream move to Estadio Mestalla in the summer of 2000. He spent eleven years with the club he has supported all his life, and enjoyed the best season of his career in 2003-04, winning La Liga and the UEFA Cup. He also achieved his best figures that season, netting fourteen goals in all competitions. In fact, his best seasons were between 2001 and 2004, which coincided with Rafa Benitez’ reign at the club.
He was a key component in the Valencia side that won the league title in 2001-02, their first La Liga triumph in thirty years. He was regularly linked with moves to bigger clubs, especially after his exploits in 2003-04, but always rejected them, stating that he loved Valencia and he was happy there because it was his homeland. I wonder if he ever regrets that decision now?
In 2004, Benitez left for Liverpool, to be replaced by Claudio Ranieri, and so began Vicente’s problems. Injuries continued to strike, and Ranieri’s preference for Italian players meant that Vicente was continuously overlooked. How he must have wished he’d followed Rafa to Merseyside! Injuries continued to hamper Vicente’s career after Ranieri was sacked, and eventually a bitter dispute broke out between the player and the club, with Vicente publicly stating that he had lost faith in the medical staff at Mestalla, and that they were responsible for his ongoing problems. Obviously, the club didn’t take kindly to these comments, and after an internal investigation, fined him €1200. All this happened back in 2007-08, and the season after it looked as though he had put all his troubles behind him as he made more appearances in 2008-09 than he had in any of the previous five seasons.
Unfortunately, though, injuries struck again the following season, and the emergence of young star Juan Mata meant that Vicente’s role at Mestalla was becoming less and less prominent. In the summer of 2011, Vicente opted to move to England, signing a one year deal with second tier side Brighton & Hove Albion. So far, he has mainly been used as a substitute, and has made a total of four appearances. His debut came in a League Cup clash with Liverpool. Vicente won a penalty for his side, which led to their goal in a 1-2 defeat. He did score his only goal for the club in a 3-1 defeat at Ipswich Town. It was some goal though; a right foot curler for the corner of the penalty area.
His career, then, has certainly had it’s ups and downs, maybe more downs to be honest! He has never quite lived up to his potential due to seemingly constant injuries, but when he was fit and firing, he was a joy to behold. If he had stayed fit, there is no doubt he would have been as good as David Silva or Juan Mata, he was that good.
Here is a low quality video enough to appreciate the quality of Vicente.