Deportivo Alaves, from Vitoria-Gasteiz, the capital city of the Basque Country, first reached La Liga just nine years after being founded in 1921. That first spell in Spanish football’s top tier would last just three seasons, but Alaves would return in 1954 for a further two years. After that, however, the Basque team plummeted down the divisions and yo-yoed between the second, third and fourth tiers for over 40 years.
Then, at the very end of the millennium, the club nicknamed El Glorioso, meaning The Glorious One, was back in the Promised Land. The team won promotion in 1998 and by 2001 they had reached the UEFA Cup final. On that fateful evening in Dortmund they came incredibly close to defeating Liverpool and even scored a golden goal in extra time, only for it to be chalked off for offside, but the Basques ultimately lost 5-4.
In the 15 years since, they have fallen back into the habit of climbing up and falling down the divisions, not helped by the disastrous ownership of Ukrainian-American businessman Dmitry Pietrman, who took over in 2004 and departed in 2007 with the club in a pile of debt.
Bit by bit the Vitoria-Gasteiz team picked up the pieces and in the 2015-16 season Jose Bordalas guided the blue and whites to the Segunda division title with a very defensive, yet successful, style of football. Perhaps because of the negative style, Bordalas was let go by the club and Mauricio Pellegrino was hired to take his place and to lead the club in La Liga in 2016-17.
Despite being something of an unknown quantity, Pellegrino took Alaves to an impressive, ninth place in La Liga and a first-ever, Copa del Rey Final, where they lost to Barcelona. The Argentine resigned at the end of the season and was replaced by countryman Luis Zubeldia for the 17-18 campaign.