The 45th Trofeo Naranja Estrella Damm match, which pits Valencia CF against ACF Fiorentina, was presented on Friday at the newly reformed headquarters of the Valencia CF Footballers Association.
Present at the event were VCF first team players Jaume Domenech and Martin Montoya, president of the VCF Footballers Association, Fernando Giner, retiring kitman Bernardo España 'Españeta' -who will receive a special tribute before the game- and representatives of the VCF Foundation, Agrupació de Penyes supporters group association, APAVCF. Head of teams for the Valencia region, Enrique García, attended on behalf of the sponsor, and Valencia CF legend Claudio López arrived during the presentation direct from Manises airport for a special announcement.
Following a round of applause for Españeta, who announced his retirement this week after 55 years of service, Valencia CF Director of Communications and External Relations, Damià Vidagany, explained to those gathered in the headquarters that the 75 season ticket holders honoured for their 50 years of uninterrupted loyalty to the club will be in attendance at Mestalla this Saturday. They will be joined by 25 players from all stages of the club's history.
Between the doors opening at Mestalla at 7pm and kick-off for the Trofeo Naranja Estrella Damm at 21:30, there will be four local bands providing entertainment, a tribute to Españeta and words from Claudio López, in addition to many surprises.
The first player to speak at the presentation was new signing Montoya, who said that: "I can't wait to play my first match at Mestalla, where I have yet to make my debut. Whenever I came here with my former club Barcelona, we new that it was a very tough place for opposing sides."
Domenech added his thoughts, explaining that: "Every time I'm in the tunnel before going out onto the pitch, I feel a chill go down my spine. At the presentation you feel the support from the fans even more, and being from here makes it an extra-special feeling. We are also privileged to be part of the tribute to Españeta; it is an honour for us."
Españeta himself took to the stage afterwards, remembering some of his unique experiences in the Trofeo Naranja down the years.
"I have been one of the last out onto the pitch for at least the past 20 years, and feeling the love of the fans is priceless," he said. "I gave my life for Valencia CF and I will always do that. I have felt the warmth of everyone since I announced my retirement and the club has been everything for me."
Finally, Fernando Giner, president of the Valencia CF Footballers Association, stated that his desire is to "appeal to the feeling of the fans, in the way the club intend.
"It is a joy to participate in the tribute to Españeta, but it is also wonderful to have the 25 players from the club's history with us. Every year the trophy will have a sponsor, and this year that person will be an immensely emblematic player in Claudio López. We want to thank Valencia CF for giving former players a place in something as important to us as the Trofeo Naranja. This season marks 20 years since the arrival of Claudio López -a player who made us a greater team."
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